If you’ve ever had or been around verbena before, you’d know how much of a sun-loving and colorful plant it is.
On top of that, the smell verbena gives off is incredible: lemony and floral that creates an uplifting effect to the senses.
However, sometimes verbena can fool gardeners. While you think it’s an annual plant, you’d be surprised to find it popping up in the garden at unexpected times, self sowing itself like a perennial.
You’ll see its colors popping up around your garden and windowsills, adding brightness to every corner and attracting butterflies from all over. While taller types of verbena have less variety in color, many forms have up to three different colors on the same plant.
Verbenas are typically low maintenance, tolerant to drought, and require only light and a bit of deadheading to encourage them to bloom until the winter.
In fact, too much fussiness over verbena leads to less flowering, so the less work, the better!
Alright, so now we know how awesome verbena is, it’s time to figure out how to grow and properly care for this special and beautiful plant.
Basic Facts On Verbena
Gardeners who are looking for a flowering plant that has a long blooming time and the effortless ability to bring butterflies to the garden should seriously consider growing a verbena plant.
Not only is it a reliable plant to have (especially for newbies), but it’s extremely versatile as they come in many different varieties.
From six-feet long accent plants to vivid hanging basket plants, verbena offers a range of different possibilities to add some color to your outdoor space.
Verbena Works In All Sites
Since there are tons of different plants in the Verbena family, gardeners can become confused on which types are annual and perennial.
Some common verbena plants include herb of the cross, vervain, and holy wort. And while they’re in the same genus, size can vary greatly between each of them, ranging from six-foot plants to six-inch ground covers.
While the perennial type of verbena tends to fade after a few seasons, Brazilian verbenas tend to self-sow, tricking the gardener into believing that the plant has returned from the dead as a perennial.
There is also the Superbina series of verbena that tends to be a short-lived perennial plant. However, if you reside in a warmer climate, it’s best not to try your luck with growing verbenas as a perennial.
Verbena Planting Tips
You can begin on your new verbena journey either from seed or from cuttings. For quicker results, you can start with transplanted verbena plants as well.
If you’re choosing to grow your verbena plant from seed, make sure to keep the seed covered in moist soil until germination begins.
This can take around three weeks.
Also, remember that verbenas require a location with full sun in order to grow properly.
Plants growing in a low lit areas won’t bloom properly and will become more likely to develop powdery mildew as well as harmful pests.
So, once you’ve chosen a brightly lit area, you need to make sure that you soils has a proper drainage system for your verbena plant.
Clay-like soil will result in root rot, so make sure you dig in multiple shovels of leaf mold or compost to lighten-up your soil.
Maintain a moist environment for your plants until they are well developed and are strong enough to tolerate dryness.
For the most part, verbena is a drought tolerant plant and definitely does not fare well in boggy-like conditions, while still making sure to not under-water it.
Soggy verbena plants will become susceptible to botrytis blight, while drought or under watered plants will bring in spider mites.
You must make sure to water your verbena plant similarly to the way you water your lawn if it experiences about an inch of rain or watering each week already.
To give your verbena plant some TLC that it needs, besides watering, start a regular deadheading routine with the plant.
In return, it will benefit greatly from it, producing more flowers, removing seed heads, and keeping sprawling plants to stay in their place.
For a larger planting of low-growing verbena, you can do this a lot more effortlessly with a string trimmer.
One thing you should know: verbenas aren’t hungry flowers.
However, they do enjoy a monthly fertilizer application (balanced flower type) in order to keep the flowering show going strong, Under the right conditions and care, they can last from spring until first frost.
If your verbenas begin showing signs of pest trouble, you’ll need to balance your urge to use an insecticide with your urge to nourish the flourishing butterfly population brought on by these little guys.
If you decide to spray your garden, note that verbenas grown in heavy soil or in shade will continue to attract insect pests. Always remember, best gardening practices first. Insecticide can’t fix bad practices.
All varieties of verbena are allowed and welcome in a butterfly garden. While taller types belong in the cottage garden, back of the border or naturalized meadow, hanging pots and basket varieties will look wonderful around the front of the house.
If you’re looking to add to your butterfly garden, try pairing bronze fennel with the tall verbena. This is a great way to support a butterfly’s special life cycle since certain types of butterflies enjoy feeding on the bronze fennel while the adults are fed by the nectar-filled verbena flowers.
Another great tip to keep in mind when adding to your garden: verbena is rabbit and deer resistant. This means it works as a great barrier to your property where overly curious animals may browse frequently.
Verbena Types To Try
As we’ve mentioned, there are tons of different varieties of verbenas, all of which vary greatly in terms of height and color.
When you start to know verbena plants a bit more intimately, you’ll begin to see that they cover an impressive portion of the color wheel: from pinks and reds to purples and blues.
Before you begin searching for the perfect verbena plant for your garden, remember that all verbena plants create clusters of lower hanging flowers which butterflies love.
Also, lots of verbena plants also have needle-like or lacy foliage, along with a rich history in medicinal properties and uses.
To this day, verbena is still used as a popular remedy for insomnia and digestive issues.
So, without further ado, the best verbena plant types to try out:
This is a Brazilian species quite popular among gardeners. They grow up to six feet and self seed themselves easily. You can also try the compact versions of this species which includes the Lollipop and Meteor Shower.
This is a verbena species native to America and produces a tall and airy environment with purple-blue flowers.
One of the most popular species, Homestead Purple is a purple groundcover flower that easily blooms throughout the entire growing season. Although it’s a short-lived perennial, it’s a beautiful one.
This lilac colored, fragrant flower is found on trailing plants. It’s a compact flower that grows only 6-8”.
Lanai Royal Purple with Eye:
This is a bright purple species of verbena that holds a contrasting white eye for aesthetic appeal. It grows 4-10 inches high and, like all verbenas, is easy to maintain.
This species is a short-lived perennial groundcover verbena that gives bloom to red-pink flowers.
This type of verbena is considered a moss type that includes thin, needle-like foliage.
After you’ve decided on the type of verbena plant you want to introduce to your home, it’s time to think about smart and helpful companion planting ideas.
Verbenas work great in a hanging basket, containers, and window boxes while paired with other sun-loving annuals such as calibrachoa and lantana.
No matter what verbena species you get (unless it’s one of the taller growing species)planting with either calibrachoa or lantana or both is a great idea.
For the taller species, consider pairing them with tall annuals such as cleome, salvia, and heliotrope. You can place the containers and pots on a patio or deck near a window to enjoy watching the visiting butterflies it brings.
Final Tips On Growing And Caring For Verbena
Now that you’ve received an in-depth look at everything you need to know about caring for and growing verbenas, it’s time for a bit of a recap.
As a summary:
Now you have everything you need to incorporate this gorgeous, reliable, and unique plant to spruce up your garden.
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