By: Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden
If you’re searching for long-lasting blooms that perform during the hottest days of summer heat, consider planting the verbena flower (Verbena officinalis). Planting verbena, whether annual or perennial types, ensures summer flowers when it is planted in the sunniest and possibly driest area of the garden. If humidity is high in your area in summer, choose perennial verbena for a better summer show.
How to Grow Verbena
When you are ready to learn how to grow verbena, you’ll want to locate this tough specimen where it gets eight to 10 hours of sun each day.
The verbena flower is not particular about soil, except that it must be well-draining. Poor soil is acceptable for verbena growing conditions. Perennial varieties of the verbena flower are often lost when planted in soil that becomes soggy following heavy winter snow or spring rain. Good drainage can offset this problem. Improve drainage before planting verbena by working in well-composted, organic material.
Verbena Plant Care
While the verbena flower is drought resistant, the blooms are improved with regular watering of an inch (2.5 cm.) or so each week. Water verbena plants at the base to avoid wetting the foliage. However, verbena plant care may not include weekly water if rainfall in your area has reached an inch or more.
A limited application of complete, slow-release fertilizer is also a part of verbena plant care. Apply in spring and again following the occasional trims needed for optimum bloom.
When planted in proper verbena growing conditions, expect blooms in the first season. Continued blooms throughout the summer are possible if the gardener keeps the plant trimmed back. Some are hesitant to remove parts of the plant regularly, but this is often necessary when planting verbena for summer blooms. When blooms slow, trim the entire plant back by one-fourth for a new show of flowers in two to three weeks. Fertilize lightly following the trim and water well. Repeat this step as needed when learning how to grow verbena successfully.
When planting verbena, remember to water, fertilize and trim for long-lasting color in the summer garden and beyond.
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Everything you Need to Know about Growing Verbena Plants
There are about 250 annual and perennial species of Verbena
but there are only about a half dozen that are commonly cultivated.
These easy to grow, long blooming plants are both heat and drought tolerant.
Some perennial Verbenas tend to be short lived due to their extended season of prolific blooms
that begins in their first year, so they are often grown as annual plants.
Typically, Verbena have narrow, lance shaped or deeply cut, green foliage growing on square or angular stems.
Trailing forms of Verbena are excellent for growing in containers and hanging baskets.
Different species of Verbena vary considerably in their size and structure.
Purpletop Verbena, Verbena bonariensis, is an erect, shrubby perennial that will grow to 6 ft. tall in southern regions, but only 3 ft. in the north. They produce 2"-3" rounded clusters of ¼", deep purple flowers from mid-summer through fall.
Self-seeds readily. Hardy in USDA zones 7-11.
Rose Verbena, Verbena canadensis, is a short lived, creeping perennial that is native to eastern North America.
Rose Verbenas grow from 6"-18" tall with a spread of 2-3 feet. In early summer, they produce a profusion of dense 2½" clusters of rose-pink flowers and will continue to bloom sporadically until the first frost, if deadheaded regularly. This self layering plant is Hardy in USDA zones 6-10.
Common Garden Verbenas, Verbena x hybrida, are tender perennials that are usually grown from bedding plants as annuals. They may be erect and bushy, growing to 18" tall, or trailing 6" tall plants, depending on the cultivar. They produce dense clusters of brightly colored, fragrant, ½"-1" flowers from summer through fall, but blooming may decline as summer temperatures rise.
Hardy in USDA zones 9-10.
Moss Verbena, Verbena tenuisecta, is a ground hugging, evergreen perennial with deeply cut, aromatic foliage. They will grow 6"18" tall and is capable of spreading up to 5 feet wide. From late spring through the summer, they produce masses of tiny, Lilac colored flowers in tight, 3" clusters. Requires warm temperatures and fairly dry soil.
Hardy in USDA zones 9-11.
Swamp Verbena, Verbena hastata, is an erect, stiffly branched perennial that grows from 3-5 feet tall. They produce long lasting, 2"-4" clusters of tiny, violet or purple flowers from early summer until early fall.
Hardy in USDA zones 3-9.
Planting, sowing garden vervain
From planting and care and from spring to winter, follow our gardening tips to increase blooming.
Plant your garden verbena preferably in fall, but you can also plant it until spring as long as it doesn’t freeze.
- Remember to blend the soil with compost or special flower plant soil mix.
Sowing garden vervain
You can start your covered sowing early in March and April or directly in the ground starting from mid-May.
- When sowing in a sheltered place, ensure minimum temperatures of 60°F (15°C).
- Broadcast seeds and cover the seeds in a shallow layer of seedling soil mix.
- As soon as the first leaves appear, thin to 1¼ to 1½ inches (3 to 4 cm).
- When the plants have born 4 or 5 leaves, transplant them to a nursery pot.
- Transplant to the ground when the last frosts are past, towards mid-May.
The perennial type, Verbena canadensis, tend to fade away after a few seasons. Brazilian Verbena (Verbena bonariensis) may self-sow freely.
Verbena plants are available in a variety of heights and a range of colors that cover the pink, red, and purple spectrum. All of the plants bear clusters of shallow flowers that butterflies find irresistible. Many plants have lacy or needle-like foliage. Verbena plants have a rich history in herbal medicine. They are still used as a remedy for digestive ills and insomnia.
Blue Vervain: The native Verbena hastata has a tall, airy habit with bluish-purple flowers.
Bonariensis: The popular Brazilian species grows up to six feet tall and self-seeds freely. Grown as a perennial in zones 8 and warmer, it attracts butterflies in droves. Also, try the compact varietals for Bonariensis verbena: “Lollipop” and “Meteor Shower.”
Greystone Daphne – This plant has fragrant lilac-colored flowers on trailing plants.
Homestead Purple – Popular in the garden world, this is a purple-flowering ground cover that performs throughout the growing season. It is a short-lived perennial in zones 6 and warmer.
Lanai Royal Purple with Eye – This plant is bright purple with a contrasting white eye.
Tapien series – Fine, needle-like foliage is the hallmark of this moss verbena.
One problem with lemon verbena is that it can be a host of dozens of pests. Depending on where you live, the pests and diseases can vary. Here are a few of the common ones.
If you notice a small black or grey fly with a yellow stripe and transparent wings, you have leafminers. Leafminers lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves where they feed on the leaf tissue. You’ll often notice the maze-like tunnels they chew through leaves, first.
Try introducing beneficial predator insects such as ladybugs to your garden to take on the leafminers. Also, be sure to use proper plant care techniques and remove infected leaves to stop the infestation.
Spider mites are red, yellow, or green pests that size of a pinhead that causes webbing on the leaves. Their size makes them a bit tricky to spot!
Large infestations of mites can cause yellow, withered leaves that drop prematurely. Using insecticidal soaps and oils helps to get rid of spider mites.
Aphids are tiny, soft-bodied insects that cover the buds and underside of the leaves. The problem is aphids is that they suck the plant’s fluid by piercing stems and leaves with their mouths.
A small infestation of aphids doesn’t pose a huge problem, but a more extensive infestation can stunt growth and encourage powdery mildew growth.
Treat aphids by blasting them off of the plant with water and apply insecticidal soap. Beneficial predator insects also help to feed on the aphids.
If you notice tiny, brown bumps on the leaves that seem to move, you have a scale infestation. Scale is a parasitic insect that feeds on the sap of the plant, leading to defoliation and branch dieback. You can treat the plant with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.
- Once established, Verbena plants do not require much care.
- In the spring season, they are set out after fertilization once a year.
- continued to pruning deadhead and faded blooms so that they were blooming in the growing season for a long time.
- If you grow it in perennials in your environment then cut back the plant in the fall. And if you grow annually, remove the plants after flowering. Read more .
Verbena Plants – How to Grow and Care for Verbenas
Verbena flowers will offer attraction and a great look to your summer garden. This is a flowering plant that you can depend on for long lasting blooms and they perform very well during the hottest summer months. These plants thrive in the direct sunlit areas of your garden, and no matter if you are planting the annual or the perennial Verbenas, consider to use them as your summer flowering plants.
The Verbena flowering plants are ideal to be used in summer gardens. It is a spreading plant and therefore can suit cascading gardens or cascade over retaining walls, baskets, pots and window boxes. These plants are drought tolerant and therefore are perfect for rock gardens, hanging baskets as well. They can grow up to a height from 6 inches to 3 feet and are about 12 to 20 inches wide, depending on the type and variety of the plant. The Verbena plants bloom seasonally and just like the flowering daylilies you have summer bloom as well as autumn bloom plants.
How to Grow Verbenas?
Verbena plants tolerate high heat and summer temperatures and hence are drought resistant. They can grow well during their active period when they are given plenty of water. It requires about 8 to 10 hours of full sunshine and must be grown in well-lit areas. In the hottest regions, it is better to grow them in partial shade areas. It requires well-drained soil to thrive and is not tolerant of soggy and poor soil. They will grow and flower well if the soil is mixed with peat moss, compost, and organic materials. The plant has to be watered regularly till it gets established in the new soil. After that, you need to water the plant only when the soil goes dry. Feed the plant with a very good, all-purpose liquid fertiliser during the spring time.
The Verbena plants can be grown from the seeds. The seeds need to be grown in the dark as it required darkness during germination. Make sure that the seeds are completely covered to help in germination. The seeds can be sown in the garden directly and this has to be sown only during the autumn or early spring. You should cover the seed bed with black plastic to ensure complete darkness. It will take at least 20 to 30 days for the seeds to germinate. The creeping varieties of Verbena can be easily propagated through layering . You can make more Verbena plants from stem cuttings . The established plants can be divided during the winter period or early spring.