Mostly native to Asia and the Americas, Verbena is a stunning plant featuring delicate clusters of small flowers known for attracting butterflies. Most bloom in tones of red and purple, but it’s not uncommon to see verbena pop up in white, pink, and other shades, too.
With flowers that bloom for weeks or more, verbena is a great way to bring color to your landscaping. One thing to note about verbena is that size varies tremendously among varieties. Most are known for quickly spreading far and wide, making them an excellent ground cover, while others grow tall. Most verbena grows somewhere between six inches and three feet tall and is commonly planted in traditional gardens, window boxes, retaining walls, vertical gardens, and containers.
How to Plant Verbena
Verbena are sun lovers and should be planted in full sun (that’s at least six hours of direct sunlight each day) in plant hardiness zones 5–9, though exact growing zone will depend on the variety. With less than full sun, verbena will struggle.
Verbena thrives in a variety of soil conditions and don’t require much water, especially once established, but you will want to make sure the soil drains well. Additionally, avoid planting your verbena too closely together in order to keep them healthy and precent the spread of mildew.
How to Care For Verbena
- Verbena are fairly easy to care for and will thrive as long as they get plenty of sunlight and about an inch or so of water each week.
- Mildew is likely the biggest issue you’ll encounter when planting and caring for verbena. You’ll know it’s present if you notice a white, powder-like residue on the plant. As mentioned above, one way to avoid the spread of mildew is to leave space between verbena when planting so they have room to air out and so that mildew isn’t able to easily spread from plant to plant. When planted in soil that doesn’t drain well, root rot can also be an issue.
- Additionally, you’ll want to remove dead plants and debris from the garden or planter boxes as necessary, and remove dead flower heads to keep the plants healthy and encourage future blooms. If you happen to have an issue with insects, remember that spraying will likely have a negative impact on butterflies, which are attracted to this sprawling bloom, so non-chemical methods of pest control are best.
A Few Favorite Varieties of Verbena
Verbena grows in more than 200 varieties of both annuals and perennials. Here are a few types you may want to plant in your gardens and flower boxes this spring.
Purpletop vervain (Verbena bonariensis)
This unique perennial can reach up to six feet tall and features tiny, delicate flowers that are well loved by butterflies and other pollinators. It has a long blooming season that can last from late spring through the fall.
Fuego Pink verbena (Verbena ‘fuego pink’)
Known to expand 18 inches wide or more, this is a fast-growing variety of verbena that is a great option for flower boxes, containers, and hanging baskets because of the way the flowers spill and trail out, creating a wonderfully decorative display of pink blooms.
Quartz Silver verbena (Verbena ‘quartz silver’)
This is variety of verbena features delicate white and grayish/lavender flowers and grows upright to a height of about eight inches rather than spreading far and wide like many other verbena varieties.
Homestead Purple verbena (Verbena ‘homestead purple’)
With plentiful vibrant purple flowers, this perennial is known for spreading into any space that’s available and therefore is best planted as a ground cover or a trailing plant in flower boxes or hanging planters.
Babylon White verbena (Verbena ‘babylon white’)
This is a spreading or trailing variety of verbena with delicate white flowers that grow in clusters and look beautiful in hanging baskets and planters. It’s highly disease resistant and requires only little care and maintenance.
Lanai Lavender Star verbena (Verbena ‘anai lavender star’)
Commonly seen in hanging baskets, this variety of verbena is notable for its lavender blooms with tiny white stripes. It’s capable of spreading up to two feet wide and usually doesn’t grow taller than six inches.
Texas Rose verbena (Verbena ‘Texas rose’)
This perennial verbena boasts saturated pink flowers. It’s of the spreading variety and will grow quickly, taking over any space that’s available
Moss Verbena (Verbena tenuisecta)
Moss verbena has smaller leaves than other verbena varieties and can tolerate cooler conditions, including frost. It’s also drought-tolerant and features tiny clusters of purple or violet flowers.
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