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.
- LOW GROWING + SPREADING GROWTH MAKE THIS VARIETY AN IDEAL EVERGREEN GROUND COVER WITH AROMATIC FERNY, FINELY CUT FOLIAGE. MOSS VERBENA IS A LOW GROWING, CREEPING PERENNIAL IN ZONE 6-11 AND GROWN AS AN ANNUAL IN OTHER ZONES. DROUGHT AND HEAT TOLERANT. IT’S A FAST GROWING GROUND COVER THAT LOOKS GREAT IN ROCK GARDENS, CONTAINERS, POTS, + MEADOWS.
- PERFECT FOR ROADSIDE PLANTINGS AND RECLAMTION AND CAN FILL BARE SPOTS IN YOUR YARD QUICKLY. NOT FUSSY ABOUT THE TYPE OF SOIL, MOSS VERBENA WILL GROW IN JUST ABOUT ANY SOIL CONDITIONS AS LONG AS IT’S WELL-DRAINING. MOSS VERBENA RARELY REQUIRES WATERING AFTER THEY ARE ESTABLISHED. DRAW BUTTERFLIES AND OTHER WILDLIFE TO YOUR YARD WITH THIS EASY TO GROW MOSS VERBENA GROUNDCOVER!
- 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.
- Verbena hybrids nana compacta is simply known as Verbena. It is a tender perennial that is usually grown as an annual in most parts of the United States. It is usually considered to be both tolerant of deer and rabbits
- This 8 inch annual is a wonderful low-growing flower that works well as a ground cover or in baskets and containers. It looks lovely spilling over the edges of a window box!
- Verbena has flower clusters that can measure up to 3 inches across, and it will bloom from late spring right up until the first frosts of fall. This mix has shades of rose, scarlet, white and violet.
- Start Verbena seed indoors 4 – 6 weeks before the last expected frost date. Soak the seed in tepid water for 24 hours prior to planting. Press the seed into soil, cover lightly with peat moss and keep the seed moist. Verbena seed needs darkness to germinate, so cover the starter trays with black plastic or newspaper with air holes cut in it.
- Sowing Rate: 2 - 3 seeds per plant or 1,000 seeds per 20 square feet. With a temperature of 75F, germination is usually within 28 days. Grow Verbena in full sun and well-drained soil. Space plants 12 - 18 inches apart. Trimming Verbena back 1 – 2 times during the growing season tidies their appearance and stimulates more blooms.
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.