Verbena Plants Complete Guide To Grow And Care

Verbena, is a plant that is typically grown as an annual hybrid flower garden plant and low trailer with elongated, serrated leaves that are dark green in color. Only in zones 8 to 11 do they thrive as hardy perennials, returning year after year. They thrive in eight to ten hours of full sun, moderately moist, well-drained soil, and sufficient air circulation between plants. Their vibrant blossoms bloom constantly from spring to fall.

Verbena hybrids are typically sown as springtime potted nursery plants or seeded inside in plant trays in the latter part of winter. From seeds grown inside in the winter, these plants develop quite quickly, blooming by midsummer; potted plants reach full size in a few weeks. Certain varieties, such as lemon verbena, are poisonous to horses, dogs, and cats.

Verbena Plant Overview

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Common Name Verbena, annual verbena
Botanical Name Verbena x hybrida
Family Verbenaceae
Plant Type Annual, perennial
Mature Size 9–12 in. tall, 12–18 in. wide
Sun Exposure Full
Soil Type Moist, well-drained
Soil pH Acidic, neutral
Bloom Time Spring, summer, fall
Flower Color White, red, purple, pink, lavender, bi-colored
Hardiness Zones 8–11 (USDA)
Native Area Europe
Toxicity Some types are toxic to dogs, cats, horses

Verbena Care

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The following are the primary criteria for verbena plant care:

  • Plant in an area that receives six hours or more of direct sunlight every day, ideally eight or ten. 
  • Water frequently, but keep the soil from becoming too wet. 
  • Requires soil that is slightly acidic, well-drained, and somewhat damp. 
  • Use a slow-releasing, balanced fertilizer once a month. 
  • Plants should have room to breathe; they should grow to a minimum of 12 to 18 inches in width.

Light Requirements

Put verbena in direct sunlight. Eight to ten hours a day is preferable for this plant, although six hours is plenty. Shaded areas will have significantly less flowering.

Soil and Potting

These plants prefer somewhat acidic to neutral pH (5.8 to 7.2) soil that is relatively dry. Verbena doesn’t mind the type of soil as long as it drains properly. Dig several shovelfuls of compost or leaf mold into deep soils to help lighten it since too much clay can cause root rot.

Watering

The water requirements of many of the parent species of these hybrids are similar to those found in arid prairies and Mediterranean regions, where they are native. When fully grown, these plants require half to one inch of water each week on average, but they can withstand brief dry spells. Once a plant is established, keep it equally moist. Botrytis blight can kill sodden plants, while spider mites may be drawn to plants that are stressed by drought.

Temperature and Environment

Hybrid verbenas, when planted as annuals, thrive in almost any climate but may wither during the hottest summer months. Most hybrids are hardy in zones 8 to 11 when cultivated as short-lived garden perennials, but some are hardy as low as zone 7.

Fertilization

Although verbenas don’t require much fertilizer, plants can benefit from a monthly dose of balanced, slow-releasing flower fertilizer to maintain their blooms, which can persist until the first frost. Use a water-soluble fertilizer during the growing season if the plants are being grown in containers. Refer to the product label for advice on how much fertilizer to use.

Types of Verbena

There are around 250 species in the genus Verbena. To differentiate them from the native species forms, these are frequently labeled as “Verbena x hybrida,” “Verbena x,” or “annual verbena.” The distinct bloom colors of the several hybrid verbena cultivars are used to identify them. Here are a few noteworthy choices:

  • ‘Lanai Royal Purple with Eye’ is a cultivar with bright purple flowers and contrasting white eyes.
  • ‘Lanai Twister Pink’ has dual-tone light pink and dark pink flowers on low trailing plants.
  • ‘Superbena’ 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.

Species Types

There are a few pure Verbena species that you can try as garden perennials in addition to the Verbena hybrids that are so popular as annual bedding and container plants. The butterfly garden welcomes these species. Tall cultivars are better suited for the naturalized meadow, cottage garden, or the back of the border. Many of these plants have more of an upright growing habit, and they may not appear like the hybrid trailers at all.

  • Native to North America, V. hastata, sometimes known as blue vervain, is a six-foot-tall plant with purplish-blue flowers. In zones 3 through 8, it is hardy. 
  • Verbena tenuisecta was the previous classification for glandularia pulchella, or moss verbena. With delicate, lace-like foliage, it grows slowly, reaching a maximum height of 5 or 6 inches. It is hardy in zones 7 to 9, flowers in late summer and early fall. 
  • Also known as lemon beebrush, Aloysia citrodora, or lemon verbena, is a native of South America. It is primarily farmed for its usage as a herb in aromatherapy and natural healing. For horses, cats, and dogs, it is a poisonous variant.
  • Native to Brazil, V. bonariensis, often known as purple top vervain, reaches up to 4 feet in height and has lavender flowers. Zones 7 through 11 can tolerate it. 
  • Glandularia canadensis has been reclassified; it was formerly thought to belong in the verbena genus. The cultivar ‘Greystone Daphne’ features lavender-pink flowers and a sprawling habit, growing to a height of 8 inches. In zones 5 through 8, it is hardy. 
  • Rigid verbena, or V. rigida, is a spreading cultivar that works well as a ground cover. In zones 7 through 9, it is hardy. Representative cultivars are ‘Polaris’ and ‘Stantos.’

Pruning

Extending the blooming season and encouraging fresh flowers can be achieved by pruning the plants back multiple times during the growth season.

Once or twice a season, verbena plants should be sheared back to maintain a full, well-groomed appearance. Deadheading wasted flowers is not necessary, although it is an option if you would like to promote more blooms.

Propagating Verbena

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Cutting and rooting stem segments is the most effective method for multiplying hybrid garden verbenas. To keep plants alive through the winter, take stem cuttings, root them indoors, and pot them up in preparation for springtime outside transplantation. This is how you do it:

  1. A clear plastic bag, a potting container, peat-free potting mix mixed with sand or perlite, sharp, sterilized pruners, and rooting hormone are required.

     

  2. Using sterile pruners, cut 4- to 6-inch clips from the ends of healthy stems. Take off the lower third of the cutting’s leaves, and then put the cut end into the rooting hormone.

     

  3. Put a permeable rooting medium in tiny pots. Bury the exposed portion of the stem by planting the cutting in the potting mix. Make sure the potting mix is well saturated by giving the pots a gentle watering.

     

  4. Place the pot somewhere bright but out of direct sunlight, and cover it with a plastic cover or loose plastic bag. Examine the cuttings on a regular basis and add moisture to the potting mix as needed.

     

  5. Start gently tugging on the stem to test the cutting after a few weeks. When you start to experience resistance, you will know that roots have taken hold. The plant is ready to be transplanted into the garden or larger pots using commercial potting mix once fresh growth becomes noticeable.

How to Grow Verbena From Seed?

Verbenas are primarily hybrid plants; they do not “come true” or develop into plants that are similar to their parents. To start a seedling, buy commercial seeds that have been bred in a properly regulated greenhouse.

  1. To guarantee flowering by early June, start seeds inside 12 to 14 weeks before your normal last frost date.

     

  2. After putting the seeds in a plastic bag, wrap them with a wet paper towel. Keep them chilled for a week.

     

  3. Plant them in commercial seed-starter mix-filled cell trays.

     

  4. After lightly covering the seed with more seed-starter mix, press the seed into the ground.

     

  5. Once the starter mix is moistened, mist it again, cover the tray, and keep it out of direct sunlight at a temperature of approximately 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

     

  6. After the seeds take 21 to 30 days to sprout, take off the cover and place the tray in direct sunlight.
  7. When the seedlings have multiple sets of true leaves, they can be moved into pots with commercial potting mix or straight into the garden.

     

  8. Before putting seedlings in the garden, let them become hard.

Potting and Repotting Verbena

Verbena is frequently seen cascading over the sides of hanging baskets filled with a variety of other flowers, where it makes an excellent “spiller.” For container planting in any type of well-draining container, use any general-purpose potting mix (any kind would suffice). Verbena growing in the ground can also be potted up for indoor overwintering.

Potted verbenas are often grown as annuals and don’t need to be replanted. When the growth season is almost over, throw them away.

Because of their brief growth season—two to three—perennial verbenas are not suitable as long-term houseplants. On the other hand, since potted verbenas are considered warm-climate perennials, you can bring them indoors and continue to flourish all winter. If you bring them inside, cut them back by one-third before moving them, and give them an indoor location with as much sunlight as possible.

Overwintering

You can overwinter potted verbena. When temps drop well below freezing, the first heavy frost will probably kill off any unpotted verbena. Digging out the entire plant will allow you to pot up the in-ground verbena. This is what you should do:

  1. Reduce the plant’s size by more than half. Dig it out carefully, and cut the roots in half.

     

  2. Choose a container and add potting soil to it so that the root ball is left with a few inches surrounding it. Plant the verbena at the same depth from when it emerged from the earth.

     

  3. Choose the brightest indoor area you can find for the recently planted potted plant. For the first few weeks indoors, spritz with water; after that, check often and water as necessary. Additionally, look for bugs, as aphids and other typical houseplant pests can affect indoor plants.
  4. Prune the plant when the spring’s final frost draws near to encourage fresh growth. You can take the container outside or plant the verbena again in the garden whenever the evening lows consistently rise above fifty degrees Fahrenheit.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

Insecticidal soaps can be used to control common insect pests that may visit these plants and cause powdery mildew.7. Aphids, mites, leafminers, thrips, and scale are among the most common insect pests. Plants seldom die from powdery mildew or these insects.

You can reduce powdery mildew by watering at ground level instead than using an overhead sprayer. Additionally, providing the plants with lots of room to enhance air circulation will aid in the decrease of these fungal infections.

How to Get Verbena to Bloom?

If the basic cultural requirements of hybrid verbenas—plenty of sun, well-draining soil with moderate moisture, and light, regular feeding—are satisfied, they nearly always blossom profusely. Giving a plant a good “haircut”—a serious pruning—along with a generous supply of balanced fertilizer is typically the answer when it doesn’t blossom.

Bloom Months

Typically, verbenas bloom from May to October.

How Long Does Verbena Bloom?

The lifespan of flowers is two to three weeks. Deadheading frequently causes the plant to rebloom after they fade.

What Do Verbena Flowers Look and Smell Like?

Tiny star-shaped blooms in a variety of hues, including red, pink, apricot, lavender, blue, white, and bicolor, appear in clusters when verbena is grown. Except for lemon verbena, which has a zesty flavor from its crushed leaves, most verbena are scentless.

How to Encourage More Blooms?

Remove spent petals to promote new blooms.

Deadheading Verbena Flowers

Wait until the first set of flowers disappears before deadheading verbena. Using clean gardening shears or pruners, trim back the top quarter of the plants, lopping off the topmost portion of the plants.

Common Problems With Verbena

Growers and maintainers will find verbena plants easily. The most difficult thing about hybrid verbenas is knowing when to water them, as improper watering can result in common issues.

Plants Dry Up or Die Back

Plants with insufficient watering will wither and die back. It can withstand brief droughts and drier soil, but the plants will perish in hot weather that lasts longer than a few weeks. Weekly applications of one inch of water are usually sufficient, although plants grown in deep soils with poor drainage may find this to be excessive. One tactic is to keep an eye on the plant and wait to water it until the leaves begin to curl, at which point give it a good soak. This method necessitates daily observation.

Plants Become Leggy

Leggy and sparse verbenas may indicate that the plant is expanding outward in search of more light. Ensure that the plant gets six hours or more of sunlight each day. When the light isn’t a problem, give the plant a serious trim and fertilize it. Thick new growth and a flowering flush should be encouraged by pruning and feeding.

Plants Wilt and Turn Brown

Compacted soil or an excess of water can cause root rot in plants. Examine the roots. It’s most probable root rot if they seem dark brown. Cut back on the frequency of watering. Use a fungicidal treatment to stop the illness. Dig up the plant, clip off any brown or black root portions, apply fungicide, then replant in new, well-draining potting soil for optimal results to promote healing.

Also Read: Queen Elizabeth Rose Complete Guide To Grow And Care

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