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Verbena: How to Plant and Care for Verbena Flowers | The Old Farmer's Almanac

Verbena

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Flower Garden/Shutterstock
Botanical Name
Verbena spp., Glandularia spp.
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How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Verbena

The Editors
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Verbena is a long-blooming flower that can be grown as an annual or a perennial and is beloved by pollinators. Learn how to plant, grow, and care for verbena in your garden!

About Verbena

Verbena, also known as vervain, is a long-blooming, heat-tolerant perennial or annual flower. Verbenas come in many colors and sizes; some grow up to 6 feet tall while other varieties are short ground covers that reach no higher than a foot. The tiny flowers are grouped into rounded clusters. 

Many perennial varieties are relatively short lived and can be grown as annual plants since they will bloom readily during their very first season in the ground. Bedding type annual verbenas grown from seed do not do well in hot and humid regions. Verbenas are perfect for containers, hanging baskets, and window boxes. 

Planting

When to Plant Verbena

  • Start seeds indoors about 8 weeks before your last frost date.
  • Plant transplants outdoors when the soil has warmed to at least 60°F (15°C) in the spring and the threat of frost has passed.

Choosing and Preparing a Planting Site

  • Select a spot in full sun. 
  • Make sure the soil drains well. Heavy clay soils will cause root rot. Dig in compost to lighten-up your soil. 

How to Plant Verbena

  • Pinch the tips of the branches at planting time to encourage branching and a fuller plant. 
  • Keep soil moist until plants are established. 
Growing

How to Care for Verbena

  • During their blooming period, water the plants once a week if they do not receive an inch of rain that week.  
  • When bloom slows during the summer, trim the whole plant back by about one fourth of its height. Water thoroughly. Rebloom will occur within 2 to 3 weeks. 
  • Apply a complete fertilizer (16-4-8) in mid- to late spring and again after trimming back. 
  • In the fall, you can trim back the plants lightly to give them a neater appearance, but do not cut severely until spring, when new growth begins to appear. 
  • Some varieties will re-seed and naturalize in the garden. 

Propagating Verbena

  • Perennial verbena are relatively short lived, typically lasting two to three years in the garden. Divide mature perennial clumps in the spring.
  • Take stem cuttings in late summer or early fall. Remove the bottom pair of leaves right at the stem. Dip the bottom of the stem in rooting hormone and plant about 1 inch deep in a container with moist potting soil. Place the container on a sunny windowsill to root. 
  • Save seeds in the fall and plant in the fall or spring. 
Harvesting

Verbenas as Cut Flowers  

The taller varieties of verbena with stiff slender stems and airy clusters of flowers last a long time in flower arrangements.

Wit and Wisdom
  • Verbena is Latin for “sacred plant.” 
  • When the Romans sent messengers of peace to other nations, they attached stems of verbena to their clothes. 
  • In folk medicine, a mixture of verbena leaves boiled in vinegar was used to treat rheumatic pains, lumbago, and pleurisy. 
Pests/Diseases

Verbena is rabbit and deer resistant. 

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