Verbena, Verbena x hybrida, is a plant that provides nonstop color in the summer beds. Find facts and information on growing and caring for verbena, varieties and colors, and propagation of verbena.
Verbena Facts and Information
Verbenas, or Vervain, may reach a height of 6 inches to 4 feet high, depending on the variety, and may be bushy or creeping in growth. Verbenas do well in beds, borders and in containers. Bedding verbena prefers full sun and moderately fertile, well-drained soil with a pH of 5.5-7.0. They are usually grown as annuals, so it is easy to change your color choices each year.
This type of verbena reaches 12-18" in height and width and has a spreading or upright growth pattern. Verbena flowers grow in clusters of tiny flowers in popsicle shades of red, white, pink, and purple, often with a white or yellow eye, appear from summer to early autumn.
Verbena plants may be upright or spreading, depending on cultivar. Deep to medium green leaves are hairy, rough, and toothed. Verbena is a great plant for garden edges and borders. As bedding plants, you can plant them in masses, or plant them in odd-numbered groups in a full sun border, or in a container plantings. Good companion plants include any of the petunias, ‘Iceberg’ rose, nettle-leaved mullein and Verbena corymbosa. Verbena is also an easy plant to grow in children's gardens and it will attract butterflies to its bright blooms.
Growing and Caring for Verbena
Plant verbena 12-24” apart in late spring. Apply slow-release plant food at time of planting, or begin using water-soluble plant food 3 wees after planting. Apply 3 inches of vegetative mulch in summer to reduce weed seed germination, hold moisture in the soil, and as it decomposes, add organic matter to the soil. Water deeply when the soil is dry. Deadhead any spent blossoms to encourage reblooming.
When verbena is grown as an annual, remove the plants just before the first frost or right afterward when foliage is disfigured. Cover bare soil with 3” of vegetative mulch during winter to preserve topsoil. Verbenas will tolerate some fairly warm weather conditions and will add some bright colors to rock gardens.
Propagation of Verbena
Verbena seeds should be chilled for 7 days before they are sown. Sprinkle the verbena seeds over the growing medium and cover lightly. Thoroughly moisten and keep moist, not soggy, until seeds germinate. Germination occurs in 10-20 days at 75-80 degrees. Transplant them 20-30 days after sowing. Reduce the temperature to 60 degrees after transplanting.
Verbena Pests and Diseases include both powdery mildew and rust. Insect pests include aphids, spider mites, and whitefly.
Related Species: the cultivar “Amethyst” has small blue flowers with white eyes, ‘Blue Knight’ bears lilac flowers, ‘Cardinal’ has red flowers, ‘Carousel’ has purple-and-white-striped flowers, ‘Imagination’ has deep violet-blue flowers, and ‘Peaches and Cream’ has flowers in shades of peach, pink, and orange.
Verbenas do very well as container plantings or in hanging baskets. Make sure you get a spreading variety for a hanging basket. Usually your plant will come with a tag with a description of the plant and planting information. Check to make sure it has a spreading growth habit so you will have a nice, overflowing basket of colorful foliage and flowers. They will require sun, so try to place them in a bright location.