Verbena

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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 blooms all season long. Verbena is also drought tolerant, making it a great choice for rock gardens and for planting in cracks between stones.

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

Colorful Combinations

More common verbenas are generally a hybrid of many different species to make the common varieties you see today. Another commonly planted variety is Verbena bonariensis. Otherwise known as purpletop vervain, V. bonariensis is a tall, versatile annual. This species can grow up to 4 feet tall and put on a wonderful show in a garden setting, especially with other prairie-type plants and grasses. The flowers of the purpletop vervain are much smaller than the more common verbena, but just as plentiful.

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

Annual verbena makes a great accent in containers and has a couple of options. Some varieties are more of a trailing habit and are great spilling out of containers or in large groupings as a groundcover. Other varieties are more upright and a good option for smaller spaces and smaller containers.

Verbena Care Must-Knows

As far as problems go, verbenas are pretty free of disease. The biggest concern is mildew. This 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. This is a common problem with the purpletop vervain, especially on lower growth. The best solution for powdery mildew is to plant the plants in a well circulated area, making sure the plant's leaves dry out well after a rain or watering. If this has been a problem in the garden in the past, make sure to clean up any old plant debris like dead leaves or stems on the ground. Cleaning up old material is the best prevention and rotating plantings so the same susceptible plants aren't in the same spot each year.

If you're interested in growing annual verbena in your gardens or containers, they can easily be started from seed. The tall purpletop vervain will even re-seed itself year after year if left undisturbed.

More Varieties of Verbena

'Aztec Red' Verbena

Annual Red Verben
Andy Lyons

Aztec Red verbena (Verbena 'Aztec Red Velvet') offers rich red flowers with a creamy center on spreading plant 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 Pink' 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-size flowers and rich 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 to 14 inches tall.

'Summer Snow' Verbena

Verbena bonariensis
Denny Schrock

Verbena 'Summer Snow' is a trailing selection 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 tailing 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 will happily re-seed in the garden.

Verbena Companion Plants

Larkspur

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

Petunia Merlin Blue Morn
Peter Krumhardt

Petunias are failproof favorites for gardeners everywhere. They are vigorous growers and prolific bloomers from midspring 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 great 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.

Snapdragon

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 mild regions, the entire plant may overwinter if covered with mulch.

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