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How to Grow Verbena

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Verbena is home to more than 250 perennial and annual species. The majority of the pure species are only grown by highly skilled gardeners. Many Verbenas are used as bedding plants and low trailers in containers. They are hybrid crosses of different native Verbena species. These will often be labeled “Verbenax hybrida”, or “Verbenax x” to differentiate them from native species forms.

The hybrid annual verbenas are dependable bloomers that can be potted, used as garden bedding plants or planted in masses. They can also be used to front edging plants when the sprawling habit is being put to good effect.

These plants, which are annuals, should be planted as soon as possible after the danger of frost has passed. They are like most annuals and can grow quickly to full size in a matter of weeks.

Verbena Care

Although they can be grown in zones 9 through 11, hybrid verbenas are better suited for use as annuals. These plants are low-growing and trailing, with dark green leaves and clusters full of brightly colored flowers that bloom from spring through fall.

How to Grow Verbena Garden Chronicle
How to Grow Verbena Garden Chronicle

Hybrid annual verbenas thrive in dry soil and in sunny locations. You will need to water the plants only occasionally.

Light

Plant verbena in full sun. Shaded areas will result in flowering that is much less. This plant needs eight to ten hours of sunlight each day.

Soil

These plants prefer acidic soil that is fairly dry. Verbena doesn’t care much about soil except that it should be well-drained. To prevent root rot from occurring, heavy clay should be removed.

Gardening Tips : How to Grow Verbena
Gardening Tips : How to Grow Verbena

Water

Plants should be kept well-watered until they are established. These plants will need to be watered regularly until they are mature. However, they can tolerate short periods of drought. These hybrids often have their parents in Mediterranean or dry prairies. Their water requirements are similar to those areas.

Botrytis blight will affect plants that are too wet, while plants that are stressed by drought may be susceptible to the infestation of spider mites. With a quarter inch of rainfall or irrigation per week, water verbena like you would your lawn.

Humidity and Temperature

Hybrid verbenas are planted as annuals and can be grown in almost any climate. However, they may not perform well in the hottest months of the summer.

Fertilizer

Verbenas don’t need to be fed a lot, but they appreciate a balanced, slow-release fertilizer that helps them maintain their flower show. This can be from spring through frost.

Verbena vs. Lemon Verbena

It is common to confuse verbena with another plant called lemon verbena. Lemon verbena belongs to a different genus in the Verbenaceae, and is classified as Aloysia Triphylla. Lemon verbena is a herb used for aromatherapy and home remedies. It has a distinct citrus scent, unlike most verbena plants.

Verbena Varieties

You can identify the different hybrid verbena varieties by their distinctive flower colors. There are many notable varieties:

  • One of the most sought-after trailing verbenas is “Homestead Purple”. This vigorous plant produces large clusters of dark purple flowers. “Lanai Royal Purple With Eye” (Verbenax hybrida) – This cultivar bears bright purple flowers with contrasting white eyes.
  • “Summer Blaze” is a cherry red flower cluster that blooms from late spring to frost.
  • “Abbeville”, a vigorous variety with light purple flowers, was originally found growing in Abbeville, SC.
  • Appleblossom is a vigorous, long-flowering verbena that produces large cotton candy-pink flowers with a contrast white eye.
  • Superbina’s” series was bred to resist powdery mold and can sometimes become a perennial in zone 7. The flowers are either white or lavender shades.

Similar Species

Verbena hybrids are used as annual bedding plants and container plants. However, you can also try pure Verbena species as perennials in your garden. It can be difficult to find them. These species are welcomed in the butterfly garden. These tall varieties can be found in the cottage garden or naturalized meadow at the back of the border.

These plants tend to be more upright and can look very different from hybrid trailers.

  • Blue vervain, V. hastata (blue Vervain), is a North American native. It can grow to 6 feet tall and bears purplish-blue blooms. It can be grown in zones 3-8.
  • V. bonariensis, a Brazilian native, can grow to 4 feet tall and bear lavender flowers. It can be grown in zones 7 through 11. Sometimes it is called purple-top vervain.
  • Glandularia canadensis, once considered to be a member the verbena genera, has been reclassified. The ‘Greystone Daphne cultivar bears lavender-pink flowers, and can grow to 8 inches tall with a sprawling habit. It can be grown in zones 5 through 8.
  • V. tenuisecta, also known as moss verbena, has delicate, lace-like leaves that can grow to about 5-6 inches. They flower in late summer and early autumn and can be grown in zones 7 through 9.

Verbenas can be grown from purchased seeds, even though they are usually planted from seedling packs. Verbenas are easy to grow from seeds that have been purchased. These are the simple instructions:

  1. Before planting, soak the seeds for 24 hours in lukewarm warm water
  2. Place the seeds in starter trays that have been filled with a peat-based mix of potting soil. Press the seeds gently into the mixture.
  3. Sprinkle peatmoss on the seeds.
  4. The tray should be covered with newspaper or plastic, with ventilation holes punched in. Seeds need darkness to germinate.
  5. When the seedlings are ready to be transplanted, cover the tray and place them in a sunny location.

Verbena Potting and Repotting

Verbena can be found in hanging baskets that have a mixture of flowers. They make great “spillers”, trailing over the sides. Use any peat-based potting mixture for container planting. Make sure to use a well-draining container. Verbena can be grown in the ground and potted for overwintering.

Overwintering

Overwintered potted verbena is possible. If you don’t pot the whole plant, unpotted verbena can be killed by the first hard freeze (when temperatures drop below freezing). Here are some tips:

  1. Reduce the size of your plant by half.
  2. Once you have removed the roots, cut them in half.
  3. Fill a container with potting soil that is at least 2 inches from the root ball.
  4. Place the potted plant in a sunny place.
  5. For the first few weeks, spray with water.
  6. Prune the plant to encourage growth before it gets too cold and before it is brought outside in spring.
  7. Place the container outside or plant the soil after the last hard freeze.

Common Pests and Diseases

These plants can become susceptible to powdery mildew and may be bitten by pests. Insecticide soaps or sprays are available for treatment. These problems can be fatal for plants.

Verbena is both deer and rabbit-resistant, so plant it near the property’s edge where they are likely to browse.

  1. Verbena. Clemson University Extension Cooperative
  2. Verbena – Powdery Mildew. University of Massachusetts Amherst Center for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment

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