Verbena Plant Care: How To Grow The Verbena Flower

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The verbena plant produces fragrant, good-looking flowers that sit atop fern-like foliage with an old-fashioned look and are drought-tolerant.

Verbena plants consist of around 250 semi-woody species with dense patches of flowers sitting on top.

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The simple verbena leaf sometimes appears densely hairy. Flowers are situated at the top of the stem in very dense spikes, each with five petals.

Usually growing in clumps 6″ to 10″ inches in height makes them ideal hanging basket plants.

Verbena plants typically produce brilliant large blooms in shades of white, cream, pink, red, lavender, and deep violet, some having flirty little eyes.

Flowers typically bloom from mid-summer to fall and provide beautiful accents for window boxes and rock gardens.

Verbena plants have a tendency to bloom from late summer to fall, and very minimal maintenance makes Verbena a must-have plant for the garden.

Regarded as a perennial in warm climates where frost doesn’t present an issue, it grows successfully as an annual in areas with freezing temperatures.

Lemon verbena (Aloysia citrodora), also known as the lemon beebrush, grows up to two to three meters high.

This perennial verbena makes one flowering plant species of the verbena family coming from South America.

It produces tiny white or purple flowers which bloom in late spring or early summer.

Also, its long glossy pointed leaves emit a scent reminiscent of the lemon, making it a great lemon alternative to many dishes.

Pink Verbena, or Georgia’s pink verbena, appears as a lesser-known species, although butterflies love their presence.

It bears large clusters of pink flowers accompanied by hairy foliage blooming all summer. Like most varieties, it needs well-drained soil to thrive.

Verbena Tenuisicta or moss verbena, a native of Georgia that spread across Florida, spreads fast in old fields and roadsides.

Despite its mossy and fern-like foliage, it greatly attracts butterflies. This evergreen perennial requires fairly dry soil and warm temperatures.

Verbena x Hybrida, commonly known as garden verbena, blooms tiny flowers with five petals in a sepal.

This short-lived perennial can tolerate light shades and provides brilliant blooms during summer.

Verbena hybrida looks great for trailing types of hanging baskets and rock gardens.

The Verbena hastata blue vervain, or wild hyssop, grows wild, but it serves as the favorite choice of gardeners in designing landscapes. Its unique flowers branch upwards like the arms of the candelabra.

Verbena canadensis, the trailing Verbena, also known as rosa verbena and clump verbena, loves summer or warmer areas.

It blooms beautiful purple verbena flowers blooming from spring to the cold fall season.

The purple flowering Brazilian Verbena bonariensis reseed very well, and some gardeners hesitate before growing them in their garden. Verbena Officinalis is another popular variety of medical uses.

History Of The Verbena Plant

Is Verbena a perennial?

The Verbena perennial plant holds a remarkable history and legend among several cultures.

Known as the “Tears of Isis” in ancient Egypt, the Egyptians believed the plant held supernatural and divine properties.

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The ancient Greeks referred to Verbena as the “Tears of Juno.” Christian folklore suggests they used Verbena to treat Jesus’s wounds once he was removed from the cross.

Also, its use in magical charms is a common symbol of love and is associated with fertility goddesses.

In modern horror literature, Hollywood used Verbena in the popular TV series – The Vampire Diaries to protect human beings from vampires.

Tips On Planting Verbena

So, how to grow Verbena?

Verbena plants grow well in USDA Hardiness Zones 2 – 8 and are available in most garden centers.

They are commonly grown as verbena hybrids and annuals.

When growing verbena from seed, starts them indoors in late winter by placing 2 seeds in fiber or peat pots. Cover them lightly with soil.

Water pots and keep the soil moist, not wet. Verbena seeds take about one month before showing any signs of life.

Once the plant reaches the 3 or 4 leaves stage, begin to harden them for use outdoors.

Since they take some time to germinate, most gardeners buy young plants from a local garden center.

If starting the seedlings indoors under LED grow lights, plant 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date.

Plant verbena with at least 6 to 8 hours of full sun in compost-amended beds once all the danger of frost passes. Space plants 10″ to 12″ inches apart.

Verbena though not too particular about soil, except it does need well-drained soil. You can amend your poor soil with leaf mold or compost.

Verbena Quick Care Tips

  • Botanical Name: Verbena officinalis
    Common Name(s): Common Vervain, Herb of the Cross, Juno’s Tears
    Synonyms: Verbena vulgaris, Verbena hastata
    Family & Origin: Verbenaceae family, native to Europe and Asia
    Growability: Easy to grow
    Grow Zone: USDA zones 2-8
    Size: Grows up to 6-10′ inches tall
    Flowering: Summer to fall, small purple or pink flowers
    Light: Full sun to partial shade
    Humidity: Tolerates low humidity
    Temperature: Hardy in most temperatures
    Soil: Well-draining soil
    Water: Regular watering, but avoid overwatering
    Fertilizer: Fertilize once a month during growing season
    Pests & Diseases: Susceptible to powdery mildew and spider mites
    Propagation: Propagate by seed or cuttings
    Plant Uses: Medicinal herb, ornamental plant, attracts pollinators

The perennial varieties will usually die if you grow Verbena in garden beds of soil that becomes soggy after spring rains or heavy winter snow.

Good drainage can take care of this problem. Improve the drainage before planting verbena by working with organic, properly composted material.

Verbena Care

Fortunately, Verbena flowers draw attention, but the plants do not demand attention!

Once established, they have excellent heat tolerance, so water the plants when they dry out.

Fertilize plants with a balanced fertilizer or water-soluble fertilizer once in the spring of the year after planting and establishing outside.

If you live in an area where verbena grows as a perennial, cut the plant back in the fall. If they grow as an annual verbena in your location, remove the plants once they finish flowering in the fall.

How To Deadhead Verbena?

If planted in the proper growing conditions, you can expect blooms in the first season. Deadhead faded flowers or blooms to ensure that blooming continues all through the gardening season. 

Some people do not regularly deadhead faded blooms. But deadheading is necessary if you plant verbena for summer blooms during the growing season.

If the blooms slow, trim the whole plant by a quarter for a new show of flowers in 2 to 3 weeks. Following the trim, fertilize lightly and provide regular water well. 

Repeat this process as necessary when learning how to grow your verbena successfully.

Verbena Diseases & Pests

The main pests the red verbena bush experiences are:

Spraying with insecticidal soap concentrate diluted with water proves effective when battling bugs.

You can beat slugs by setting an aluminum pie plate full of beer out in the heavily infested areas of the garden or yard.

The beer attracts the slugs, and they will die once filling up on the intoxicating beverage.

The verbena plants can be affected by diseases such as leaf spots, root rot, and powdery mildew fungal infections.

You can find various chemical and natural products to help you control these problems. You can also start planting varieties with mildew resistance.

Another way to prevent this is planting verbena in a location with good air circulation.

You can find out more about such products at your local garden center.

Companion Planting & Design

Verbena makes amazing window box plants, beautiful hanging baskets, and wonderful containers paired with other cascading annuals that love the full sun, such as calibrachoa and lantana.

Consider mixing and matching them with tall annuals such as fragrant heliotropeCleome (spider flower), and the salvia plant in containers too.

Place containers on a patio, deck, or near a window and watch the butterflies that will inevitably show their attraction to the flowers. 

Plant tall varieties in the back of perennial or annual flowerbeds to add color and surprise.

Uses Of The Verbena Plant

Verbena species earned a lot of attention from the early times in the field of folk medicine and herbalism.

The vervain tea makes one proof of this. As per the book of Nicholas Culpeper, The English Physician (1952), herbal tea promotes lactation and acts as a sex steroid analog.

Apart from medicinal benefits, the verbena species all look beautiful and serve as wonderful garden additions.

You can use some as ornamental grass; others make great choices for rock gardens, hanging baskets, and window boxes for landscape.

Verbena plants with trailing or mounding habit also make beautiful groundcover or spiller elements in containers due to their lovely blooms.

Moreover, compact varieties are perfect for balconies and outdoor tabletops. Also, upright verbenas make a great choice for mass plantings or borders.

They also highly attract pollinators, such as butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.


The vervain verbena plant does not require too much effort to plant to maintain, as clearly shown in this article. 

All you need to do is follow the discussed tips, and you will be growing verbena successfully in no time.

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