Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) These are nicely potted plants With heads of sweetly scented pink or white flowers which bloom in the summer months. Valerian flower extracts were used as a perfume in the sixteenth century. Valerian has been used as a medicinal herb since at least the time of ancient Greece and Rome. Hippocrates described its properties, and Galen later prescribed it as a remedy for insomnia. In medieval Sweden, it was sometimes placed in the wedding clothes of the groom to ward off the "envy" of the elves. Valerian can also be consumed as a kind of tea. If growing as a medicinal herb, cut flower stalks as soon as they appear to direct more energy to the root, but if growing as an ornamental, let the plant flower, as the flowers have a sweet, cherry pie fragrance, a trademark of the Heliotrope family. Full sun Perennial Valerian roots can be harvested in the spring or fall. Wash, then quickly dry at 120 degrees in the oven until brittle. Watch this closely so you don't burn the roots. When stored in an airtight container, the roots will keep indefinitely.