The Q&A Archives: Common Garden Heliotrope

Question: Last fall I planted a heliotrope (Valeriana Officinalis). It stated on the planting info that the plant would grow to 48 inches. It is now at 6 1/2 ft and just beginning to bloom. Is this uncommon, or should I have started to prune it early in the year when it began growing? After it has spent its blooms, how far can I prune it down? I have had to support it when it began to fall over in the rain and break off at its base.

Answer: That is unusually large for this plant, and it is normally self supporting. I am wondering if you may have planted it in too shady a location or overfertilized it with nitrogen. Either or both of these would contribute to excessive legginess and weak stems. Generally the plant is not pruned, but you can certainly dead head it and possibly try trimming it back by about half. If conditions are unsuitable though it will repeat the same performance.

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