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Does Valerian respond to the 'chelsea chop'

Has anyone tried the 'Chelsea chop' on Valerian? I have a clump of what I was sold as white Valerian (Centranthus Alba). Its a lovely plant, with delicate feathery leaves and umbels of white flowers. My books say Valerian should grow to about a metre tall, but for the last two years this plant has put out 3-4 flower stems exceding 2m in height and towering over my weeping cherry tree which looks odd. So I wonder if I cut it back in May before the flowers develop will it respond by producing more, shorter flowering stems or will I just stop it flowering altogether?


  • Hi Ian are you sure it is Valerian?  Because I have lots in my garden and it self seeds all over the place but I would not describe the leaves as feathery and the flowers as umbels. Sounds more like an Ammi majus type plant.  However, should it be Valerian, it is as tough as old boots and will thicken up with a Chelsea chop and give you more flowers. I have never seen one 2m in height, it must love your soil.

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,166

    was it sold as a Centranthus?

    The trouble with common names is that they are shared by different plants. Yours sounds more like Valeriana officinalis, also called valerian, have a look at some images and see what you think

    and it will grow to 2. metres. I think it's a native wildflower

    Last edited: 20 February 2017 17:35:56

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • I agree, centranthus only reaches a couple of feet. I think you have the real valerian, which has a scented flower. It dies down in winter, though, so is easy to manage


  • Hi Folks, thanks for that, I think you are right. I can't remember for sure but it may have been sold as 'white valerian' and I have since assumed it was centranthus alba. The images of valeriana officianalis do look a lot like it. I haven't noticed its scent, probably because the flowers are way above my head! I will try cutting them this year. It does die back in the winter but comes on more vigorously each spring. It hasn't shown a propensity to self seed though, which is probably a good thing in my small garden.

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