Open the Advanced Search

Red Valerian

Centranthus ruber

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Valerianaceae (Valerian)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
75 centimetres tall
Gardens, grassland, roadsides, rocky places, sand dunes, seaside, towns, walls, wasteland.

Red, 5 petals
Dark pink flowers but some specimens have pure white flowers. 5 petals, spurred and in loose clusters.
A nut-like fruit with a feathery plume on top.
Dull or pale blue-green glossy leaves. The lower leaves are stalked, and the upper leaves are stalkless. Egg-shaped, up to 12cm long, and can be either toothed or toothless.
Smells unpleasant.
Other Names:
Bouncing Bess, Bovis and Soldier, Delicate Bess, Devil's Beard, Drunkards, Drunken Sailor, Fox's Brush, German Lilac, Jupiter's Beard, Keys of Heaven, Kiss-me-quick, Pink Valerina, Pretty Betsy, Red-spur Valerian, Scarlet Lightning, Spanish Valerian, Spur Valerian, Sweet Betsy.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Centranthus ruber, also known as red valerian or Jupiter's beard, is a perennial herb that is native to the Mediterranean region. It is a member of the Valerianaceae family, and is known for its ornamental value. It produces clusters of small, star-shaped, pink, red, or white flowers that bloom in the spring and summer. The plant is hardy and tolerant of poor soils and dry conditions, making it an easy-to-grow plant for gardens. It is often used as a cut flower, dried flower, and in borders and rock gardens. It is not commonly used for medicinal or other practical purposes, and there is little scientific research on its potential benefits.


Red Valerian, also known as Centranthus ruber, is a beautiful flowering plant native to the Mediterranean region. This plant is characterized by its vibrant red flowers that bloom from late spring to early autumn. It is a hardy and low-maintenance plant that is ideal for gardeners of all skill levels.

The red valerian plant grows to a height of up to 3 feet and has a spreading habit, making it a great choice for use as a ground cover or in rock gardens. The leaves are greyish green and are oval in shape, growing to about 2 inches in length. The plant produces clusters of small, star-shaped red flowers that are highly fragrant, attracting bees, butterflies, and other pollinators to your garden.

One of the main reasons why red valerian is so popular among gardeners is its ease of care. It is a hardy plant that is tolerant of a wide range of growing conditions, including poor soil and dry conditions. It also requires very little maintenance, making it a great choice for those who want to create a low-maintenance garden.

Another reason why red valerian is so popular is its versatility. This plant can be used in a number of different ways, such as in borders, rock gardens, as a ground cover, or in mixed containers. It is also a great choice for gardeners who want to create a Mediterranean-style garden, as it is native to the Mediterranean region and will thrive in warm and dry conditions.

In terms of propagation, red valerian is very easy to grow from seed or cuttings. Simply sow the seeds in the spring or take cuttings in the summer and plant them in well-draining soil. You can also divide the plant in the spring to create new specimens.

Red valerian is a beautiful, versatile, and low-maintenance plant that is perfect for gardeners of all skill levels. With its vibrant red flowers and ease of care, this plant is sure to be a beautiful addition to any garden.

In addition to its ornamental value, red valerian has some medicinal uses as well. In traditional medicine, it has been used to treat a variety of ailments such as insomnia, nervousness, and digestive problems. The plant contains several compounds that are thought to have sedative and soothing effects, making it a great natural remedy for those who suffer from anxiety or stress.

Another great thing about red valerian is that it is deer resistant. This makes it a great choice for gardeners who live in areas where deer are a common problem. The plant's strong, pungent odor is believed to be the reason why deer avoid it, making it an ideal choice for gardeners who want to protect their plants from deer damage.

Despite its tough nature, red valerian is susceptible to a few pests and diseases. Some of the most common issues include powdery mildew and aphids. To prevent these problems, it's important to plant red valerian in well-draining soil and provide adequate air circulation to reduce the risk of disease. Additionally, regular deadheading can help prevent powdery mildew from developing.

Finally, it's worth noting that red valerian is considered invasive in some regions. If you're planning to plant this species in your garden, be sure to check if it is considered invasive in your area and take the appropriate steps to prevent it from spreading into natural areas.

Red valerian is a beautiful, versatile, and low-maintenance plant that is perfect for gardeners of all skill levels. Whether you're looking to add a touch of color to your garden, attract pollinators, or enjoy its medicinal benefits, red valerian is a great choice. With its ease of care, hardiness, and resistance to deer, this plant is sure to be a beautiful and long-lasting addition to any garden!

It's also worth mentioning that red valerian can be used in cut flower arrangements. The vibrant red flowers and long vase life make it a popular choice for floral arrangements, especially in the summer months. Whether you're using red valerian in your garden, in a vase, or as a dried flower, this plant is sure to add a touch of beauty and color to any space.

Red valerian is also a great choice for gardeners who want to create a wildlife-friendly garden. The plant's fragrant flowers attract pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, providing a valuable source of food and habitat for these important species. Additionally, red valerian is a great source of nectar for butterflies, making it an important plant for butterfly gardens.

One final tip for growing red valerian is to provide the plant with adequate light. This plant thrives in full sun to partial shade, and will produce the most flowers when it receives at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. If you're growing red valerian in a shady area, be sure to plant it in a location that receives dappled or morning sun to help encourage healthy growth and flower production.

In conclusion, red valerian is a must-have for any garden. With its vibrant red flowers, ease of care, and versatile uses, this plant is sure to become a favorite in your garden. Whether you're using it in your garden, in a vase, or as a dried flower, red valerian is sure to add a touch of beauty and color to any space.


White and Red-flowering varieties of Valerian filmed near Humphrey Head in Cumbria on the 17th July 2022.


Please remember to Like and Subscribe to the WildFlowerWeb YouTube channel at

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map