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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.
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From 6 inches to 3 feet
From 12 to 20 inches wide, depending on type
The more common verbenas are generally a hybrid of many different species to make the common varieties you see today. However, there is another commonly planted verbena, Verbena bonariensis. V. bonariensis or purpletop vervain, is a wonderfully versatile annual. Unlike the more common verbena, the purpletop vervain is very tall. These plants can get up to three to four feet tall. They make a great 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 plants 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 interesting 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
'Lanai Lavender Star' Verbena
Verbena 'Lanai Lavender Star' bears clusters of lavender-purple flowers striped in white. It grows 10 inches tall and 24 inches wide.
'Summer Snow' Verbena
Verbena 'Summer Snow' is a trailing selection to 10 inches with pure white blooms.
'Superbena Burgundy' Verbena
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.
'Superbena Large Lilac Blue' Verbena
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.