Verbena easily earns a spot in my garden by checking all the boxes: easy to grow, heat and drought-tolerant; nearly year-round color; and it attracts beneficial insects, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
The lavender clusters of star-shaped flowers provide continuous blooms in containers, garden beds, and in-ground areas. Learn how to grow verbena with these five tips.
How to Grow Verbena: 5 Tips for Growing Verbena
1. Try different varieties of verbena
Verbenas vary in size and form, so find one that suits your needs. Most varieties are grown as a perennial in warmer climates or as an annual in cooler areas.
- Purpletop verbena (V. bonariesis): stiff, 4-5 foot stems with purple flower clusters; good in the back of borders; hardy in zones 7-11.
- Vanity verbena (V. bonariesis): dwarf version of purple top verbena; well-suited to smaller gardens or containers; AAS Winner.
- Garden verbena (V. hybrida): comes in several colors; mounding trailing habit; a good choice for hanging baskets and containers; 10-20 inches tall; hardy in zones 9-11.
- Rose verbena (V. canadenis): low growing carpet-like foliage; 8-18 inches tall; hardy in zones 7-9.
- Purple verbena (V. regida): small mounding form; 1 foot tall and wide; spreads by rhizomes; hardy in zones 7-10.
- Certain types of verbena, including Santos Purple Verbena (verbena rigida) will spread (it can be invasive, similar to mint). Grow in containers to prevent spreading.
2. Purchase transplants or start verbena seeds indoors
The simplest way to grow verbena is to find a transplant online or at a local nursery. If you can’t find a transplant for a particular variety, it is also possible to plant verbena from seeds started indoors.
Start verbena seeds indoors 8-12 weeks before your desired planting date. Exclude light to encourage germination. Although seeds may be slow or irregular to germinate, be patient—store unused seeds in the refrigerator.
Flowers to Plant Outside & Seeds to Start Indoors Each Month in the Low Desert of Arizona.
• PLANTING GUIDE: Each month lists annual flowers and bulbs to plant outside & seeds to start indoors.
• BLOOMING GUIDE: Photos show what may be in bloom that month.
3. Plant verbena correctly
- Plant in the spring, when temperatures are reliably warm.
- In the low desert of Arizona, plant verbena from mid-September – November.
- Choose an area with plenty of sunlight. Afternoon shade is preferred in hot summer climate areas.
- Choose a site with well-draining, fertile soil. (Verbena tolerates poor soil but grows best in fertile soil.)
- Amend the planting area with 2 inches of compost before planting.
- Space plants 1-2′ apart, depending on the variety.
- Verbena grows well in slightly acidic to alkaline soils.
4. Care for verbena as it grows
Verbena grows best with plenty of sunshine, a little neglect (not too much water), and room to spread.
It is susceptible to blight, mildew, rot, and rust. However, most problems with growing verbena can be avoided by providing enough light, plenty of room, and letting verbena dry out a little bit between watering.
Pests that may bother verbena include aphids, beetles, caterpillars, miners, mites, nematodes, thrips, and whiteflies. However, most types of verbena also attract many kinds of beneficial insects. Don’t be too quick to treat any pests that show up. If mites are a problem during hot, dry weather, spray off verbena with a strong stream of water. For more information about organic pest control, read this post.
5. Verbena cut flower tips
Harvest verbena for cut flowers when half of the flowers have opened.
Verbena makes an excellent filler flower in flower arrangements. Read this post for more information about making flower arrangements from your garden.
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