Verbena – a Vibrant Plant

How to grow and care for Verbena.

Greetings fellow gardeners, today I’m going to guide you through the journey of learning “how to grow and care for verbena”. Verbena, with its radiant verbena flowers, is a wonderful addition to any garden, and it is commonly grown across the world for its beautiful and vibrant blooms.

Introduction to Verbena: A Vibrant Plant

The verbena family is broad and varied, offering a range of plant types to choose from, each with their unique appeal. There’s tall verbena (Verbena bonariensis) known for its airy, lacy foliage and clusters of purple and pink flowers, while moss verbena offers a low-growing, spreading habit, perfect for rock gardens. Then, there’s lemon verbena, with its beautiful leaves and pleasant aroma, adding a sensory experience to your garden.

Different Varieties of Verbena

There are many varieties of verbena plants to choose from. Some are perennial varieties such as perennial verbenas and verbena bonariensis, while others, like the annual verbena, bloom for a season long. The beautiful blue purpletop vervain (verbena hastata) and purple-top vervain are other popular choices, each bringing its unique beauty to the garden.

Purpletop vervain

Why You Should Consider Growing Verbena in Your Garden

Verbena, particularly the perennial varieties like the rigid verbena, adds lasting beauty to your garden. The verbena bloom of flowers is truly a sight to behold. Some offer large clusters of pink flowers, while others have pure white blooms. And let’s not forget about lemon verbena, with its aromatic leaves and clusters of light pink flowers.

Decoding the Ideal Conditions for Growing Verbena

In order to grow verbena, you need to understand the plant’s needs. Verbena plants prefer a full-sun location – they need about eight to ten hours of direct sun every day. They also require well-drained soil, as standing water can lead to problems like root rot. They are hardy in zones 4-11, with some variations depending on the species. Verbena is also heat and drought tolerant too, making it a great choice for a summer garden.

A Comprehensive Guide to Planting Verbena

Before planting verbena, prepare your garden beds by ensuring well-draining soil. This can be achieved by adding organic matter or sand to improve drainage. When you plant verbena, dig a hole that’s the same depth as the root ball and twice as wide. Place the plant in the hole and backfill it with soil, patting it down firmly. Ensure you leave space between plants to allow for good air circulation, which can help prevent diseases like powdery mildew.

Understanding Verbena’s Sunlight Requirements

Verbena plants require full sun to thrive. They need at least eight to ten hours of sunlight each day to encourage new growth and flower production. Verbena flowers will not bloom as profusely in shady conditions. Whether it’s the tall verbena or the trailing verbena flower, all require good sun exposure.

White vervain

The Right Soil for Verbena: Ensuring Nutrient-Rich Growth

Verbena prefers well-draining soil. The perennial varieties of verbena are particularly susceptible to root rot if the soil is waterlogged. So, make sure your soil drains well but is still able to keep the soil moist for the benefit of the plant. If you’re growing perennial types of verbena in containers or hanging baskets, make sure they have ample drainage holes.

Watering Verbena: Striking the Right Balance

Watering is crucial in the care of verbena plants. They prefer soil that is consistently moist, but not soaked. Overwatering can lead to root rot, a common issue with these plants. During the hot summer heat, regular watering is important but always check the soil first to avoid waterlogging.

Regular Pruning: Key to a Healthy Verbena

To keep your verbena looking its best, regular pruning is necessary. This encourages new growth and keeps the plant looking fresh and healthy. After the first flush of flowers, trim back the entire plant by about a third to encourage a second wave of blooms. Don’t forget to deadhead spent flowers to keep your verbena plants looking tidy and to encourage more flowers to bloom.

Protecting Your Verbena from Pests and Diseases

Verbena can occasionally be affected by pests such as aphids, and diseases such as powdery mildew. Regular inspection of your plants can help you spot these issues early. If you find pests, treat the plant with insecticidal soap as per the instructions on the label. For diseases like powdery mildew, ensuring good air circulation, watering at the base of the plant, and fungicides can help.

Fertilizing Verbena: Providing the Right Nutrients

While verbena isn’t particularly picky about fertilizer, providing additional nutrients can help it thrive. A balanced, water-soluble fertilizer applied every few weeks during the growing season can do wonders for your plants. For lemon verbena and other heavily scented varieties, a high-nitrogen fertilizer can help promote leafy growth.

Overwintering Verbena: Ensuring Year-Round Survival

Perennial verbenas and some hybrids, like verbena bonariensis, can survive winter in zones 7 and above, but in colder areas, they may need some protection. Mulching around the base of the plant can help protect the roots from freezing. For those growing in containers, moving them indoors before the first frost date can help ensure their survival.

Propagating Verbena: Growing More from Cuttings

Verbena plants can easily be propagated from stem cuttings. Cut a 4-inch section of the stem, dip the cut end in rooting hormone, and plant it in a pot with well-draining soil. Cover the pot with a clear plastic bag to create a greenhouse effect and place it in a bright, warm spot. In a few weeks, you should see new growth.

Growing Verbena in Containers: A Compact Solution

Verbena makes a fantastic plant for containers or hanging baskets. The trailing verbena variety, with its cascading growth, is particularly well-suited for hanging baskets. The plant also works well in window boxes or as part of a container garden on a patio or deck. When planting verbena in containers, make sure the soil is well-draining to prevent root rot.

Verbena: A Pollinator-Friendly Plant

Verbena is known to attract pollinators. The colorful clusters of flowers on verbena plants are a magnet for bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects. So, not only does verbena add beauty to your garden, but it also contributes to local flower biodiversity.

Frequently Asked Questions about Growing Verbena

Why does my Verbena have white, powdery patches on its leaves?

This is likely due to a common plant disease called powdery mildew. This fungus thrives in humid conditions with poor air circulation. To manage this issue, prune the plant to improve airflow, avoid overhead watering, and ensure the plants are spaced properly. Applying a fungicide can also help to control the spread of the disease. However, prevention is always better, so try to maintain the best possible conditions for your verbena to minimize the chances of this disease developing.

Why is my Verbena plant wilting despite regular watering?

Wilting despite regular watering is often a sign of root rot, usually caused by overwatering or poor soil drainage. It’s essential that verbena is planted in well-draining soil, and that you’re careful not to overwater. If your plant is in a pot or hanging basket, make sure there are sufficient drainage holes. If the problem persists, you may need to repot the plant, remove any rotten roots, and replace the soil.

My plant is not flowering as much as expected. What could be the problem?

One common reason for reduced flowering in verbena plants is inadequate sunlight. Verbena requires full sun to produce blooms abundantly. Ensure that your plant is getting at least eight to ten hours of sunlight each day. Also, remember to deadhead spent flowers regularly, as this encourages the plant to produce more blooms.

The leaves of my plant are yellowing. What could be causing this?

Yellow leaves can be a sign of several issues. Overwatering or poor drainage can lead to yellowing leaves, as can nutrient deficiencies. If you’ve ruled out water issues, try a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer to provide your verbena with the nutrients it needs. It’s also worth noting that some yellowing is normal in late summer or early fall, as the plant begins to go dormant.

There are small, green insects on my Verbena. What are they and how do I get rid of them?

These are likely aphids, a common pest for many garden plants. They feed on plant sap, causing the leaves to curl and distort. Fortunately, they’re relatively easy to manage. You can often control mild infestations by spraying the plant with a strong jet of water to dislodge the aphids. For larger infestations, an insecticidal soap or neem oil can be effective. As always, follow the product instructions for the best results.

How often should I water my plant?

The watering frequency for verbena can depend on a number of factors including climate, growing season, soil type, and the specific variety of verbena you’re growing. In general, verbena likes soil that is consistently moist, but not waterlogged. A good rule of thumb is to water when the top inch or so of the soil feels dry to the touch. In hot, dry climates or during the summer heat, you may need to water more frequently, but always be careful to avoid overwatering, which can lead to root rot.

How much sun does verbena need?

Verbena is a sun-loving plant that thrives in full sun conditions. For the most part, it needs at least eight to ten hours of direct sunlight each day. Less sunlight can result in leggy growth and fewer flowers. If you’re growing verbena in a particularly hot and sunny climate, some afternoon shade might be beneficial, but for the most part, the more sun, the better. It’s important to note that some types of verbena, like moss verbena and trailing verbena, can tolerate a bit of shade but they’ll still perform best in full sun.

Verbena and Companion Planting: A Winning Combination

Pairing verbena with other plants is a fantastic way to create a beautifully layered, multi-textured garden. Not only do companion plants add visual appeal, but they can also help improve overall plant health.

For example, pairing verbena with other sun-loving plants such as petunias, marigolds, or zinnias can create a vibrant, color-filled garden bed or container. These plants share similar growth and care needs with verbena, making them great companions.

Similarly, pairing verbena with plants that have contrasting foliage can also be quite striking. Consider pairing it with plants like Dusty Miller, with its silvery foliage, or Coral Bells, with their large, colorful leaves, for a visually appealing contrast.

If you’re growing trailing verbena in a hanging basket, consider combining it with other trailing plants like trailing petunias or sweet potato vine. This can create a lush, overflowing basket full of color and texture.

Finally, verbena’s tall, upright varieties such as tall verbena or verbena bonariensis work well when planted with lower-growing plants. For example, pairing tall verbena with a carpet of creeping thyme or moss verbena can create a stunning height contrast in a garden bed.

Remember, the most important thing when choosing companion plants for your verbena is to select plants that have similar care needs. This way, all of your plants will be able to thrive together.

Using Verbena in Landscape Design

Verbena is a versatile plant in terms of landscape design. It can be used in garden beds, rock gardens, hanging baskets, and even window boxes. The trailing habit of some varieties makes them perfect for adding a waterfall of color to hanging baskets, while the taller varieties like tall verbena or verbena bonariensis provide height in garden beds or borders.

Conclusion: Embrace the Beauty of Verbena in Your Garden

Growing verbena can bring immense joy and color to your garden. Whether you choose a perennial verbena for its lasting presence or an annual verbena for its season-long blooms, these plants are a wonderful choice for any garden. With the right care, you can enjoy the beautiful blooms of verbena from early summer until late summer, making it a wonderful addition to your garden. I hope you’ll consider adding this vibrant plant to your garden.