October 26, 2008

The Skinny on Verbena Bonariensis

It's tall and skinny and oh so purple!

Verbena bonariensis is a perennial in zones 7a through 10b. Colder areas can save the seeds and treat this verbena as an annual. It grows to around 3-4 feet in height and has such a small footprint, it can be tucked in just about anywhere in full sun with well-draining soil. The verbena in my garden has been blooming consistently since May. It's still going strong with perfect purple blooms.

Verbena bonariensis is deer resistant, rabbit resistant and drought tolerant. You can use this as a cut flower, either fresh or dried for your arrangements. This verbena is a big hit with the honey bees and butterflies as well. The birds love to eat the seeds on the verbena, so I don't cut it back in the fall. By not cutting it back, verbena bonariensis self-sows in the garden.

To grow this verbena, you can direct sow seeds in the fall as I've been doing this week. I didn't buy more seeds, I just gathered seeds that had already dried on some of the plants. You can also sow seeds next spring after the last frost. The seedlings are easy to transplant. I find the seedlings all during the summer and move them wherever I want more verbena. You can also buy these verbena in pots from plant nurseries.

For a shorter, fuller plant form, you can cut back the verbena when they first emerge in spring. You can deadhead during the summer, but I've not found it to be necessary for continuous blooms.

As for companions, what doesn't go with this violet purple? I have planted verbena with just about every other color in my garden. It works with yellow, orange, red, magenta and white...probably even more colors.

You just need a few inches of garden space to plant one verbena bonariensis to add a vertical element to your design. If there was ever an easy-growing plant for the garden, this is it!

Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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