Verbena is known for its long-lasting flowers, which thrive during the hottest days of summer. Verbena is a magnet for butterflies and pollinators, and a great way to add color and structure to your garden. These plants are also easy to grow. In ancient times, verbena was popular for its supposed healing properties. Today, the plant is also widely cultivated for its ornamental value and use as an essential oil.
||Verbena, annual verbena
||Herbaceous perennial, usually grown as an annual
||Up to 12 inches tall, 18-inch spread (depends on variety)
||Dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil
||5.8 to 7.2 (acidic)
||Spring to fall
Ecological Habits of Verbena
Verbena plants are commonly grown as perennials or annuals. There are over 250 perennial and annual species in the Verbena genus. Verbena do well as hardy perennials, ideally under USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11. But in nearly all zones, Verbena are dominantly grown as annuals. And in most instances, they're low growers and elongate in a trailing pattern. When growing inside hanging baskets, the foliage tends to resemble that of fern plants.
Low trailing plants are usually grown inside containers, while the broadest number of species is often used for borders in gardens. There are many hybrid crosses in the Verbena genus that actively bloom when provided with suitable growing conditions. For annual to sprout with ease, you'll need to wait till the spring season after the frosting period is over. Depending on the variety you're looking to grow, a mature Verbena will reach 12 inches tall and spread about 18 inches wide.
Verbena Distribution Area
Vervain (Verbena lasiostachys) is a native perennial herb in the Verbenaceae (Verbena) family that grows in northern, southern, and central California, as well as Oregon. It is found primarily along the coast, in the Coast Ranges, foothills, and scattered inland locations.
How to Grow and Care for Verbena
How to Grow Verbena
Growing from Verbena seed is also pleasingly easy. Fill trays with fresh, general purpose soil.
If you are trying to grow in a colder climate, or during the winter, try sowing in seed trays with germinations lids. These help you to regulate the temperature and humidity levels around the seeds, encouraging quicker germination.
Sprinkle the seeds over the soil. Cover your seeds with a thin layer, about half an inch thick, of fresh soil. Gently spray with water and place in a sheltered light position to germinate. Keep the soil damp.
Following germination, allow the seedlings to grow on. Once they are large enough to handle, thin out the seedlings before transplanting into individual containers.
Propagation from Verbena cuttings is best done in late spring. This is when your verbena plants are most likely to root. Cuttings can also be taken during the summer months. These are often more robust but are slower to root.
Using a sterilized pair of scissors or knife, they said a few stem cuttings from the parent plant.
You want to make sure they are at least three inches long.
Get rid of any lower leaves on each stem cutting.
Prepare the seed starter mix when growing outdoors or potting soil if you’re growing them inside hanging baskets.
Dig the planting holes at least 3 or 4 inches deep.
Moisten the soil but be careful not to overwater the cuttings.
If you're planning to grow the cuttings indoors, cover the container
How to Care for Verbena
Plant verbena in full sun. Flowering will be much reduced in shady locations. This is a plant that requires eight to 10 hours of sun daily.
Verbenas generally need a soil texture that drains water efficiently and doesn’t hold too much moisture.
Once established the Verbena plants are largely drought-resistant. Regularly watering verbena plants encourages more flowers to form. Apply about an inch of water every week to the base of the Verbena plant.
Planted as annuals hybrid verbenas perform suitably in virtually any climate, but may decline in the hottest period of the summer.
In garden beds, adding a continuous-release fertilizer and enriching the soil with organic matter at the time of planting will usually be sufficient. Otherwise, fertilize container-grown plants regularly with a water-soluble fertilizer.
In the fall you can trim back verbenas lightly to give a neater appearance to the garden, but do not cut severely until spring as new growth begins to appear.
Uses of Verbena
Using Verbena as Medicine Verbena may contain powerful anti-inflammatory compounds, and the above-ground parts of verbena plants have been used to treat a number of conditions and complaints. For example, the plant may relieve pain associated with arthritis or gout. Additionally, many people use verbena to treat bruises, burns, itching, and other skin conditions.
Verbena may relieve symptoms of the common cold and upper respiratory problems. A verbena gargle may sooth sore throat. Verbena is sometimes used to treat sinus problems, often in combination with other herbs.
Some people think verbena may be an effective treatment for kidney and liver problems, urinary tract disorders, gall bladder disease, and digestive problems, including constipation, diarrhea, and gas. Although it hasn't been proven, verbena is sometimes thought to be an effective treatment for depression and anxiety.
There are many types of verbena, and while many are attractive, the flavor is bitter and unpleasant. Lemon verbena, however, provides a citrusy aroma and lemon-like flavor to a long list of dishes. For this reason, using lemon verbena in cooking is a common practice. Keep in mind that the flavor is quite intense, so use a light touch when adding lemon verbena leaves to your culinary dishes, such as Tea, Cocktails, Tarts and other fruity desserts, Ice cream, Sauces, Whipped cream, Poached pears, or peaches.
Varieties of Verbena
The various varieties of hybrid verbena are usually identified by their unique flower colors. There are notable selections:
'Lanai Royal Purple with Eye' (Verbena x hybrida 'Lanai Royal Purple with Eye' is a cultivar with bright purple flowers and contrasting white eyes.
'Texas Rose' (Verbena x hybrida ‘Texas Rose’) is a cultivar that bears reddish-pink flowers.
'Blue Princess' (Verbena x hybrida ‘Blue Princess’) is a newer hybrid variety of verbena that produces beautiful deep blue flowers.
Superbina’" series is bred to resist powdery mildew and it sometimes becomes a short-lived perennial as far north as zone 7. Flowers are white or shades of lavender.
Verbena Common Pests/Diseases
perennials and annuals are prone to the effects of overwatering. Soil that remains soggy for too long causes the roots to rot, and some other adverse effects include powdery mildew forming on the leaves and blooms. If you spot any powdery mildew, then it could be a result of a fungal infection that spreads in microscopic spores.
Apart from chemical remedies, you can use insecticidal soap or neem oil to treat the affected areas. Some of the pests you might deal with include spider mites, snails, slugs, thrips, and aphids. A natural remedy for getting rid of these bugs is diatomaceous earth. Compared to chemical options, bugs find it hard to form a resistance against this chalk-like substance.
Verbena Design Tips
in hanging baskets, window boxes, and containers paired with other full sun loving cascading annuals such as lantana and calibrachoa. Consider mixing and matching them with tall annuals, such as salvia, cleome, and heliotrope, in containers as well. Grow verbena containers on a deck or patio or near a window where you can see the butterflies on the flowers. Tall varieties should be planted in the back of annual and perennial flowerbeds to surprise and add color to the mid summer and fall garden.
Verbena Companion PlantsVerbena
is a versatile flower that thrives in mixed flower beds. It can look particularly attractive alongside zinnias, million bells, pentas, nasturtiums and marigolds.
Companion planting is a great way to encourage growth and keep plants healthy. Basil, which deters thrips, dill, garlic and cilantro, which repel spider mites are all good companions. Chrysanthemums and daisies also help to deter pests and attract useful pest predators such as ladybugs. Planting alongside lobelia or bronze fennel is a great way to support butterflies. Young swallowtail butterflies enjoy the foliage of bronze fennel while the adults harvest verbena plants.