Valerian is an herbal remedy used as a mild sedative for treatment of sleep disorders, restlessness and anxiety. You can grow Valerian in your garden and enjoy the sweet smell of the blossoms until it is time to harvest the roots. Here is how to gather, clean, dry and store Valerian root for medicinal use.
Difficulty: Moderately Challenging
Things You'll Need
Cut off the Valerian stalks at ground level with a scythe when ready to harvest. The best time is between August and September, preferably in the second year of growth.
Dig up the Valerian roots, also called rhizomes, with a spading fork. Place the harvested roots in the shade while you work.
Shake the roots to remove excess soil.
Wash the roots with a pressure hose or rotary root washer to remove all soil and stones that may be lodged in the crown. Use cool water--heat can damage the cells that contain the plant's essential oil.
Chop the roots into equal small pieces to ensure uniform drying.
Preserve the essential oils in the roots by drying them at room temperature in a shady spot in your home or barn for 10 days. Shade drying, low temperature vacuum drying and freeze drying are also good methods. Take care not to allow the temperature while drying to exceed 50 degrees Celsius, as it can cause a significant decrease in essential oil content.
Store the Valerian root in tightly sealed containers where they will be protected from heat, light, air and moisture. You can use plastic bags, light-proof sacks, glass canisters or drums.