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Regional Picks: Overlooked Plants – Midwest

Fine Gardening - Issue 144



Red valerian (Centranthus ruber)

USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 8

Size: Up to 2 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun; well-drained soil

I never see red valerian in anyone’s garden, and I always wonder why. This plant is as old-fashioned as it gets, but it never gets old with me. After it flowers in late spring, I cut it back by half and it blooms again practically immediately. The constant cutting keeps it from flopping or reseeding and also keeps you in Pepto-Bismol–pink blooms from June until winter. I like to use it as a cutting plant, and I love pairing it with blue grasses, like ‘Elijah Blue’ fescue (Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’, Zones 4–8).


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