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.
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 bloom 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 of blooming from spring to fall and very minimal maintenance makes Verbena’s a must-have plant for the garden.
Regarded as a perennial in the 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 shrub 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 is 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 with 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.
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.
When growing verbena from seed starts them indoors in late winter by placing 2 seeds in fiber or peat pots. Cover them lightly 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 simply buy young plants from a local garden center.
If starting seed indoors under LED grow lights, plant 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date.
Plant verbena in 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. If you grow Verbena in garden beds of soil that becomes soggy after spring rains or heavy winter snow the perennial varieties will usually die.
Good drainage can take care of this problem. Improve the drainage before planting verbena by working in organic, properly composted material.
Fortunately, Verbena flowers draw attention but the plants do not demand attention! Once established water the plants when they dry out.
Fertilize plants with a balanced 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 in your location, remove the plants once they finished 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.
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 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:
- Small spider mites
- Black, green and yellow aphids –> natural homemade aphid killers here
- Snails, slugs
- … and thrips
Spraying with insecticidal soap concentrate diluted with water proves effective when battling the 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 and powdery mildew fungal infections.
You can find various chemical and natural products to help you control these problems.
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 full sun such as calibrachoa and lantana.
Consider mixing and matching them with tall annuals such as fragrant heliotrope, Cleome (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 analogue.
Apart from medicinal benefits, the verbena species all look beautiful that they serve as wonderful garden additions.
You can use some as ornamental grass, while others make great choices for rock gardens, hanging baskets, and window boxes.
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.