Are you looking to bring a burst of color into your garden this growing season? The verbena is a great choice. This stocky plant looks fantastic as a border around flowerbeds or as a ground cover, producing the same clusters of purple or pink flowers in the summer.
Many gardeners like planting verbena in hanging baskets and in pots, bringing them onto the patio and other outdoor living spaces. The plant does require some extra attention compared to other flowers, but it’s worth the extra attention when the shrub bursts into bloom.
The verbena also goes by the moniker of “the Tears of Isis,” with the small flowers featuring a five-petal shape, with double petals that form the shape of teardrops. The verbena is native to Asia and the Americas, and it’s a popular choice for flowerbeds in gardens around the globe.
The verbena has uses in traditional medicine, with its extract used in tonics and aromatherapy preparations. The polyphenols in the plant reduce inflammation and calm the nervous system.
Gardeners choose to grow verbena as an annual or as a perennial, depending on local climate conditions. Most gardeners choose to grow the plant as an annual.
Some varieties of verbena can reach as tall as three feet but must remain under a foot or so, making them ideal for planting at the front of your flowerbed and around the borders. The flowers come in purple, red, pink, white, and blue, and the scented flowers attract pollinators to the yard.
This guide gives you everything you need to know about growing verbena.
Growing and Caring for Verbena
The verbena is an attractive and easy plant to care for, provided you give it the attention it needs. They make excellent “spiller” plants for container and basket growing, with the blossoms hanging over the sides for a spectacular visual on the patio or poolside.
Choosing a Planting Site
The verbena likes growing in locations that receive a minimum of six hours of sunlight each day. Choose a spot in your garden that gets morning sun and afternoon shade for the best results. Remember to take into account the movement of the sun during the seasonal changes.
The verbena can grow in lean soils, but it blooms harder if you plant in airy, loose soils with plenty of nutrients and good aeration. The issue with the verbena is that the plant struggles to recover from problems involving a lack of water or maintenance.
Therefore, the gardener has to ensure they properly maintain the plant throughout the growing season. Without regular maintenance, the verbena dries out fast, turning foliage brown and crisp, and it won’t flower.
Typically, plants are easier to care for in flowerbeds than they are in containers. The plant’s root system likes to grow deep into the soil, so you’ll need a large pot or container to house the root ball. The isolated nature of container plants means they require routine care, especially if you’re keeping them under a patio awning or indoors.
- Beautiful - Full color seed packet of Verbena, Ideal Florist Mix. Colorful variety with a sprawling habit and varied color blooms including burgundy, peach, pink, purple, red, and white. Perfect for hanging baskets or containers or as a groundcover, filling in flower beds, and in pollinator gardens. Minimum of 500 mg per packet.
- Fun - Plant wildflower style or in carefully arranged beds, whatever suits your fancy. Enjoy outdoors in the garden or may be grown indoors if given sufficient light.
- Pollinator Friendly - Butterflies and bees love Moss Verbena flowers and will pay your garden many visits. Great way to support your local pollinators.
- Easy to Grow -- Instructions included on each packet with additional information on the “Gardening Tips” section of our website. Plus, we are available to answer all your questions. If these seeds don’t germinate, we will happily make it right for you.
- Safe and Sustainable -- Our operation is fully solar powered, and Sow Right Seeds has taken the Safe Seed Pledge to sell only fresh Non-GMO heirloom seeds for you and your family.
- Verbena bonariensis is commonly known as Purpletop Vervain, and it is a tender perennial that reaches 36 – 48 inches in height. It has clusters of rose-violet flowers that are held on long stems, and in some areas, this flower is called Verbena On A Stick.
- Growing in USDA zones 7 - 11 the flowers are rich in nectar and very attractive to bees, butterflies, and song birds also enjoy the flowers when they go to seed.
- This 36 - 48 inch perennial flower is fairly drought tolerant once it is established, and it works well to naturalize any setting, looking especially lovely in meadows.
- Purpletop Vervain seed needs a cold treatment to aid in the germination process. Either plant the seed directly outdoors in the late fall or moisten the seed in a paper towel, and place it in the refrigerator for 30 days before planting outdoors in the spring after danger of frost has passed.
- Press the seed into the soil and cover lightly with peat moss. With a temperature of 70 - 75F, germination is usually within 28 days. Grow Verbena in full sun and well-drained soil. Space plants 24 inches apart. Usually, Purpletop Vervain is resistant to both deer and rabbits. It is known to reseed, but it is not considered to be invasive.
- 1. Choose the right containers:You can start seeds in almost any type of container, as long as it’s at least 2-3 ” deep and has some drainage holes. If you love to DIY by yourself, you might start growing seedlings in yogurt cups, milk cartons or even a paper cup.
- 2. The “potting soil”:Choose the potting soil that’s made for growing seedlings.NOTE: Do not use soil from your garden or re-use potting soil from your houseplants.
- 3. Planting:Some of the small ones can be sprinkled right on the soil surface. Larger seeds will need to be buried. After planting seeds, you have to moisten the newly planted seeds. To speed up germination, cover the pots with wet paper or a plastic dome. This helps keep the seeds moist before they germinate. When you see the first signs of green, you have to remove the cover.
- 4. Watering, feeding, repeating:As the seedlings grow up, you have to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Let the soil dry slightly between waterings. Remember to feed the seedlings regularly with liquid fertilizer.
- 5. Light:Seeds need a lot of light. Set the lights on a timer for 15 hours a day. If you’re growing in a window, choose a south-facing exposure. Rotate the pots regularly to keep plants from leaning into the light. If you’re growing under lights, adjust them so they’re just a few inches above the tops of the seedlings. Keep in mind that seedlings need darkness, too, so they can rest. As the seedlings grow taller, raise the lights.
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Temperature and Humidity
When gardeners plant the verbena as an annual, it’s better to go with a hybrid variety. The plants will perform well in any climate, but they may decline flower production during the hottest weeks of the summer.
The verbena enjoys moderate humidity, and it’s suitable for growing in colder climates across the United States.
The verbena is a fussy plant when it comes to water, and its thirsty requirements are where many new gardeners fail to get the plant to flower. When watering, you’ll need to ensure that the soil drains well.
The waterlogging of the soil results in the onset of root rot in the plant, inviting disease.
The gardener will need to inspect their verbena daily during the summer season, ensuring that the soil is moist at all times. It’s important not to water on the plant as it may cause the development of disease.
Rather water around the base of the verbena and leave the foliage dry. Wet foliage may invite disease to infect the plant.
If you notice that the foliage on your verbena is starting to sag and turn limp, it’s time to water the plant. Typically, the verbena requires an inch or two of water per week, depending on the climate conditions in your area.
The verbena can get somewhat leggy during the growing season. To contain the plant, you’ll need to give it seasonal pruning once or twice a year. Most gardeners prune the plant in the early spring or the late fall, with some gardeners prune the plant in the mid-summer to shape it to their needs.
Removing the spent leaves and blooms from the plant helps to inspire new growth and a second round of blooming during the late season. When pruning the plant once or twice a year, remove up to a third of the spent flowers and foliage, and you’ll get a new bloom in the late season.
If your verbena refuses to flower, trimming a few inches of the plant is the best way to induce the flowering cycle.
The verbena enjoys growing in nutrient-rich soils. However, that’s not enough to sustain the plant during the growing season; if you want several blooms from the plant, you’re going to need to fertilize it.
These plants require frequent fertilizing using a balanced formula. You can choose granular or liquid products for fertilizing your plants, with the granular type providing the least effort to feed your verbenas. Look for a 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer product, and feed the plants every two weeks.
Unfortunately, you won’t get the same level of growth or flowering out of the plant if you choose to forgo fertilizing your verbenas.
The verbena is a common plant to find at a nursery. It’s for this reason that most gardeners don’t feel the need to propagate the plants themselves. However, if you want the challenge of growing and propagating your verbena, you have the option of starting with seeds or cuttings.
Propagating Softwood Cuttings
To take a cutting from your verbena:
- Measure three inches back from the tip of the stem.
- Take your cut at a 45-degree angle, and strip away the lower sets of leaves.
- Place the cutting in a seedling tray filled with high-quality potting mix and water.
Place a plastic dome over the seedling tray to retain moisture in the air and improve the rooting time. Lift the dome for an hour each day to give the cuttings so fresh air and avoid mildew growth. You should begin to notice new roots forming after three to four weeks.
After the roots start appearing, you can plant the verbena cutting into a pot.
Propagating From Seed
You can find seedling packs in nurseries across the United States. The verbena also self-sows seeds at the end of the flowering season, and gardeners might notice new seedlings pop up in the flowerbed the following season. The new plants will have the properties of their parents.
If you want to plant verbena seeds, it’s a good idea to soak them for 24-hours before planting. Soak the seeds in lukewarm distilled water, and plant them out the following day into seedling trays filled with potting mix. Press the seeds lightly into the soil, and cover with a thin layer.
Mist the seeds daily, and keep the soil moist by placing a plastic dome over the seedling tray. It takes a few weeks for the seedlings to sprout. Let them develop three to four sets of leaves before transplanting them into large individual containers.
Pests and Diseases Affecting Verbena
As with most plants in your garden, the verbena is susceptible to some pests and forms of fungal disease. If you live in an area that gets lots of rainfall and cold, cloudy days, you’ll need to be on the lookout for mold and other diseases occurring in your plants.
As mentioned, only water around the base of the plant. Watering the foliage could result in the onset of disease in the verbena. Planting in a site with optimal airflow also ensures fewer chances of fungal infection in your verbenas.
If you experience a fungal infection on your plants, use a fungicidal agent to kill off the disease. You’ll need to remove infected parts of the plant. Throw the debris in the trash, not in the compost heap, to prevent infection of your organic material.
Insects are a problem for the verbena, with many pests finding the plant appealing. Some of the common pests to look out for during the growing season include the following.
To get rid of insect infestations, we recommend preparing a diluted neem oil solution. Mist it on the plants with a spray bottle, and the bitter taste of the oil drives the pests away from your plants. Avoid using pesticides where possible, as many of them harm the pollinators visiting the plants during the blooming season.