How to Plant and Grow Verbena

Continuously blooming verbena graces rock gardens, trellises, walls, and containers.

Verbena is the ideal plant to cascade over retaining walls, containers, baskets, and window boxes. As long as its soil is well-drained, verbena will reward gardeners with countless clusters of blooms all season long. Verbena is also drought tolerant, making it an excellent choice for rock gardens and for planting in cracks between stones.

Verbena flowers are held in constantly blooming circles atop the tips of the stems. These flower stalks keep blooming all season long and continue to grow, producing new buds all the time. This eliminates the need for deadheading, as they bloom on top of wilted flowers. Petals on the verbena flower can be quite varied, with fringed edges, stripes, white eyes, and even streaks of color.

Verbena Overview

Genus Name Verbena
Common Name Verbena
Plant Type Annual, Perennial
Light Sun
Height 6 to 12 inches
Width 12 to 20 inches
Flower Color Blue, Pink, Purple, Red, White
Foliage Color Blue/Green
Season Features Fall Bloom, Summer Bloom
Special Features Good for Containers
Zones 7, 8, 9
Propagation Seed, Stem Cuttings
Problem Solvers Deer Resistant

Where to Plant Verbena

Verbena needs eight hours of full sun in moderately rich, well-draining soil to produce a seemingly endless supply of blooms. It is ideal for climbing fences and trellises or cascading from baskets, but it is just as happy in rock gardens or as groundcover. Other varieties are more upright and a good option for smaller spaces and containers.

Verbena grows as an annual in many areas but is hardy in Zones 7-9.

How and When to Plant Verbena

Set verbena plants into the garden in spring after all danger of frost has passed. Loosen well-draining soil to a depth of 12 inches and space the plants 12 to 18 inches apart. Remove the verbenas from their pots and loosen the roots if they are pot-bound. Set them in the ground at the same depth as in the nursery containers and water them regularly until they are established.

Verbena Care Tips


Plant verbena in a location that receives 8 to 10 hours of sun daily. The plant will live with only 6 hours of sun daily, but it won't flower prolifically.

Soil and Water

Soil that is not well-draining should be amended with compost or leaf mold before planting verbena. The plant tolerates several soil conditions, but having wet feet is not one of them. After they are established, verbena plants have average water needs—an inch of water once a week is sufficient—and can tolerate short periods of drought.

Temperature and Humidity

Verbena plants are cool weather stars. They flower in spring, weeks before most other flowering plants in a garden, and again in autumn when the weather cools. In the heat of the summer, they may slow down their showy display.

In general, verbenas are not fans of heat and humidity. Annual verbenas don't perform well in hot, damp summers.


An application of a fertilizer with a 3-1-2 ration, such as 16-4-8, applied in late spring and again after trimming back the plants, is usually sufficient unless they are growing in poor, sandy soil. For the amount to use, follow product label directions.


When the summer heat arrives, annual verbenas may slow down on blooming or become leggy. If this happens, trim up to one-third of the plant, but no more, to improve its appearance and encourage autumn blooms.

When growing verbenas as perennials, cut back the old stems of the plant to 2 inches before new growth starts in spring.

Pests and Problems

As far as problems go, verbenas are pretty free of disease. The biggest concern is mildew, which shows up on the plants as a powdery white residue on the leaves and eventually causes the plant to slowly decline in vigor. Generally, it will not kill a plant but will stress it some and slow it down. The best solution for powdery mildew is to plant verbena in an area with good air circulation, making sure the plant's leaves dry out well after rain or a watering. If this has been a problem in the garden in the past, clean up any old plant debris, such as dead leaves or stems on the ground. Cleaning up old material is the best prevention. Rotate placement so the same susceptible plants aren't in the same spot each year.

How to Propagate Verbena

If you're interested in growing annual verbenas in your garden or containers, they can be started from seed. However, if the plant is a hybrid, stem cuttings are a better propagation method because they result in seedings that are identical to their parents.

When starting from seed, in spring, sprinkle seeds over rich, well-draining topsoil and don't cover them. Keep the soil moist, and the seeds will germinate in a few weeks.

Start plants from cuttings in late spring. Cut a 3-inch stem with no flower on it. Remove all but the topmost one or two sets of leaves and plant the cutting in a small pot filled with moist, well-draining planting medium. Place the pot with cutting inside a clear plastic bag. The stem will begin to root in about six weeks.

Types of Verbena

Many common verbenas are hybrids of different species.

'Aztec Red' Verbena

Annual Red Verben
Andy Lyons

Aztec Red verbena (Verbena 'Aztec Red Velvet') offers rich red flowers with a creamy center on a plant that spreads to 12 inches.

'Babylon White' Verbena

White Verbena
Andy Lyons

Verbena 'Babylon White' bears pure white flowers on a trailing plant. It's more disease resistant than many other verbenas.

'Fuego Dark Violet' Verbena

Verbena 'Fuego Dark Violet'
Justin Hancock

Verbena 'Fuego Dark Violet' is a vigorous selection with large clusters of rich violet-purple flowers and excellent heat tolerance.

'Fuego Pink' Verbena

Verbena 'Fuego Pink'
Justin Hancock

Verbena 'Fuego Pink' offers rich pink flowers on a vigorous spreading plant.

'Fuego Red' Verbena

Verbena 'Fuego Red Evol'
Justin Hancock

Verbena 'Fuego Red' is a fast-growing variety that shows off big clusters of brilliant red flowers.

'Imagination' Verbena

Imagination Verbena
Peter Krumhardt

Verbena tenuisecta 'Imagination' is a popular deep violet-purple variety that grows 8–12 inches tall and spreads beautifully in hanging baskets.

'Lanai Lavender Star' Verbena

Verbena 'Lascar Lavender Star'
Justin Hancock

Verbena 'Lanai Lavender Star' bears clusters of lavender-purple flowers striped in white. It grows 10 inches tall and 24 inches wide.

'Lascar Burgundy' Verbena

Verbena 'Lascar Burgundy'
Justin Hancock

Verbena 'Lascar Burgundy' is a mounding plant with medium-sized burgundy-red flowers.

'Peaches and Cream' Verbena

Peaches 'N' Cream Verbena
Peter Krumhardt

Verbena x hybrida 'Peaches and Cream' is a showstopper with peach and creamy-white blooms. Plants are 8–10 inches tall and spread 12 inches.

'Quartz Purple' Verbena

quartz purple mix verbena
Peter Krumhardt

Verbena 'Quartz Purple' bears rich purple flowers on an upright, compact plant to 8 inches.

'Quartz Silver' Verbena

annual silver verbena
Andy Lyons

Verbena 'Quartz Silver' is a compact, upright variety with white flowers flushed with silvery lavender. It grows 8 inches tall and wide.

'Temari Patio Red' Verbena

Verbena 'Temari Patio Red'
Peter Krumhardt

Verbena 'Temari Patio Red' offers bright red flowers on mounding plants 14 inches tall.

'Summer Snow' Verbena

Verbena bonariensis
Denny Schrock

Verbena 'Summer Snow' is a trailing selection growing to 10 inches with pure-white blooms.

'Superbena Pink Parfait' Verbena

Verbena 'Superbena Pink Parfait'
Marty Baldwin

Verbena 'Superbena Pink Parfait' shows off wonderful soft-pink flowers over fuzzy, disease-resistant foliage. It grows 12 inches tall and 48 inches across.

'Superbena Large Lilac Blue' Verbena

Verbena 'Superbena Large Lilac Blue'
Justin Hancock

Verbena 'Superbena Large Lilac Blue' is a vigorous selection with good disease resistance that bears large lilac-blue flowers. It grows 12 inches tall and can spread 4 feet across as a groundcover. It will trail over the sides of a container or hanging basket.

'Superbena Burgundy' Verbena

Verbena 'Superbena Burgundy'
Justin Hancock

Verbena 'Superbena Burgundy' is a vigorous selection that bears rich burgundy flowers from spring to fall. It grows 12 inches tall and can spread 4 feet across as a groundcover. It will trail over the sides of a container or hanging basket.

'Tropical Breeze Red and White' Verbena

Verbena 'Tropical Breeze Red & White'
Justin Hancock

Verbena 'Tropical Breeze Red and White' offers good resistance to powdery mildew and shows off white flowers liberally streaked in red.

'Tukana Scarlet Star' Verbena

Verbena 'Turkana Scarlet Star'
Marty Baldwin

Verbena 'Tukana Scarlet Star' features large bright red flowers with a sparkling white eye. It's heat tolerant and flowers all summer, growing 8 inches tall and 24 inches wide.

'Temari Bright Pink' Verbena

annual hot pink verbena
Andy Lyons

Verbena 'Temari Bright Pink' is a trailing selection with soft pink flowers that bear tiny white eyes. It trails to 1 foot.

Verbena bonariensis

Butterfly Painted Lady On Verbena Bonarienses
Jay Wilde

Verbena bonariensis is a tall, purple-blooming prairie-type verbena that happily reseeds in the garden.

Verbena Companion Plants


blue larkspur
Matthew Benson

The pale and dark blues of larkspur are some of the prettiest you'll find in the garden, and they come with little effort. Plant larkspur once and allow the flower heads to ripen, scattering their seed, and you'll be assured of a steady supply of larkspur in your garden for decades. All you'll need to do is pull out the ones you don't want! Larkspur is basically an annual version of delphinium, an all-time favorite perennial. Larkspur produces lovely spikes of blue, purple, pink, or white flowers in spring and summer. They look best clustered in small patches. Like many cool-season annuals, it's a good winter-blooming plant for the Deep South. Larkspur is so easy to grow that it often self-seeds in the garden, coming back year after year. Plant larkspur from seed directly in the garden in early spring. Larkspur doesn't like to be transplanted. It prefers rich, well-drained soil and ample water. When hot weather strikes and larkspur starts to brown and fade, pull out plants, but be sure to leave a few to brown and reseed.


Petunia Merlin Blue Morn
Peter Krumhardt

Petunias are failproof favorites for gardeners everywhere. They are vigorous growers and prolific bloomers from mid spring through late fall. Color choices are nearly limitless, with some sporting beautiful veining and intriguing colors. Many varieties are sweetly fragrant (sniff blooms in the garden center to be sure). Some also tout themselves as "weatherproof," which means that the flowers don't close up when water is splashed on them. Wave petunias have made this plant even more popular. Reaching up to 4 feet long, it's excellent as a groundcover or when cascading from window boxes and pots. All petunias do best and grow more bushy and full if you pinch or cut them back by one- to two-thirds in midsummer.


red snapdragon
Lynn Karlin

Few gardens should be without the easy charm of snapdragons. They get their name from the fact that you can gently squeeze the sides of the intricately shaped flower and see the jaws of a dragon head snap closed. The blooms come in gorgeous colors, including some with beautiful color variations on each flower. Plus, snapdragons are an outstanding cut flower. Gather a dozen or more in a small vase, and you'll have one of the prettiest bouquets around. Snapdragons are especially useful because they're a cool-season annual, coming into their own in early spring when the warm-season annuals, such as marigolds and impatiens, are just being planted. They're also great for fall color. Plant snapdragon in early spring, a few weeks before your region's last frost date. Deadhead regularly for best bloom and fertilize regularly. Snapdragons often self-seed in the landscape if not deadheaded, so they come back year after year, though the colors from hybrid plants will often be muddy looking. In temperate regions, the entire plant may overwinter if covered with mulch.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do verbenas come back every year?

    The perennial verbenas are relatively short-lived. They come back for two or three years. Taking a few cuttings in late summer or early fall is one way to be sure you'll have your favorite plants again next year. Annual verbenas are killed by cold weather, but they are prolific self-seeders, so even though they don't come back, their seeds may make a surprise appearance in the garden each year.

  • Are animals attracted to verbena?

    Verbena plants attract several pollinators. Monarch butterflies, moths, bumblebees and hummingbirds are drawn to verbena blooms by their sweet scent and stay a while for their nectar. Most animals leave them alone, although a hungry deer or rabbit might eat them when other food is unavailable.

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