FAMILY: Verbenaceae

  • Annuals
  • Perennials
  • Full Sun
  • Moderate Water

Plant Details

This large group includes some of the garden's most colorful, useful, and easy-to-grow plants. Most bear clusters of small, five- petaled, tubular blossoms from late spring until frost. Low verbenas make good ground covers and edging plants; they're also great in hanging baskets and containers or tumbling over rock walls. Use taller types in borders. Most thrive in heat and tolerate drought. Provide good air circulation and well-drained soil. Not favored by deer.

V. bipinnatifida. DAKOTA VERBENA. Perennial. Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8. Native from Great Plains to Mexico. Grows 815 in. high, 112 ft. wide or wider, with blue flowers and finely divided leaves. Spreads by self-sowing in most areas.

V. bonariensis. Perennial in Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-11; annual in Upper South (USDA 6). Native to South America but naturalized in the southeastern U.S. Airy, branching stems to 36 ft. carry purple flowers. Leaves are mostly in a basal clump to 112 ft. high and 1123 ft. wide. This plant has a see-through quality that makes it suited for foreground or back of border. Self-sows freely. 'Lollipop' is a smaller, more compact plant 24 in. wide.

V. canadensis. ROSE VERBENA. Perennial in Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9, but usually treated as annual. Native from Virginia to Florida, west to Colorado and Mexico. To 112 ft. high, 1123 ft. wide, with rosy purple flowers. There is a compact (6-in.-high) form suitable for rock gardens; white- and pink-flowering forms are also offered. 'Greystone Daphne', to 68 in. tall and up to 112 ft. wide, has dark green leaves and lavender-pink flowers; it thrives in Southern gardens. When growing the species or its selections as perennials, provide good winter drainage; in the Upper South, cover with light winter mulch.

V. gooddingii. Short-lived perennial. Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11. Native to the Southwest. Grows to 112 ft. high, spreading to about 3 ft. wide. Oval, deeply cut leaves. Pinkish lavender flowers at ends of short spikes. Will bloom first summer from seed sown in spring. Can reseed where moisture is adequate. Tolerates dry heat.

V. x hybrida. GARDEN VERBENA. Short-lived perennial grown as annual. Zones US, MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 6-11. Much-branched plant to 612 in. high, spreading 1123 ft. wide. Oblong, 2- to 4-in., bright green or gray-green leaves with toothed margins. Flowers come in flat, compact clusters to 3 in. wide; colors include white, pink, bright red, purple, blue, and combinations. Superior strains include Romance (to 6 in. tall), Novalis (to 8 in.), and Showtime (to 10 in.). All are colorful but prone to insect damage, particularly by thrips.

V. hybrids. Perennials. Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-11. Grow as annuals where not hardy. Group of mostly low-growing, wide-spreading plants that love hot, dry weather and bloom all summer.

'Batesville Rose'. To 12 ft. high, 3 ft. wide. Vivid magenta flowers. Found in a road ditch in Batesville, Texas.

'Blue Princess'. To 1 ft. high, 23 ft. wide. Fragrant lavender-blue blossoms; mildew-resistant leaves.

'Homestead Purple'. To 1 ft. high, 4 ft. wide. Rich, deep purple blooms; mildew-resistant foliage. Thrives in the South. Discovered on old Georgia homestead.

'Hot Lips'. To 610 in. high, 23 ft. wide. Bright red-violet flower heads, with each tiny blossom shading to a darker color toward the center.

'Mystic'. To 610 in. high, 23 ft. wide. Light lavender-blue flowers.

'Pinwheel Princess'. To 12 ft. high, 23 ft. wide. Sport of 'Blue Princess'. Lightly scented blossoms are striped in lavender and white; they look like little pinwheels.

'Sissinghurst'. To 8 in. high, 34 ft. wide. Coral-pink flowers.

'Texas Appleblossom'. To 6 in. high, 23 ft. wide. Flowers open cotton candy pink, then gradually fade to white.

'Tie Dye'. To 6 in. high, 23 ft. wide. Resembles 'Pinwheel Princess', but stripes are lavender, pink, and white.

V. peruviana. Perennial in Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11, but usually treated as an annual everywhere. Native to South America. Spreads rapidly, forming a flat mat to 2 ft. wide. Small, closely set leaves; flat-topped clusters of scarlet-and-white flowers on stems to 3 in. tall cover the foliage. V. p. 'Alba' has pure white flowers. Hybrids feature blossoms in white, pink, or red; they spread more slowly than the species and have slightly larger leaves and stouter stems.

V. rigida. Perennial in Zones MS, LS, CS; USDA 7-9, or grow as annual anywhere. Native to South America but naturalized in Southeast. To 12 ft. high, spreading to 34 ft. wide. Rough, strongly toothed, dark green leaves to 24 in. long. Lilac to purple-blue flowers in cylindrical clusters on tall, stiff stems. Blooms in four months from seed. 'Polaris', a dense grower to 2 ft. high, 1 ft. wide, has pale porcelain-blue flowers.

V. Superbena hybrids. Perennials in Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11, and grown as annuals in cooler zones. Heat and disease tolerant. Superbena hybrids have large flowers that make large clusters. Growing 612 in. tall and trailing up to 48 in. wide, they are available in selections called 'Burgundy', 'Coral Red', 'Dark Blue', 'Large Lilac Blue', 'Pink Parfait', 'Pink Shades', 'Purple', 'Royale Chambray', 'Royale Iced Cherry', 'Royale Peachy Keen', 'Royale Plum Wine', 'Royale Silverdust', 'Royale Whitecap', and 'Violet Ice'.

V. Tapien hybrids. Perennials in Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11, annuals anywhere. Prostrate plants to 4 in. high, 1112 ft. wide, with finely cut, dark green leaves. Wide range of colors, including pink, lavender, pale blue, deep purple, red. Resistant to mildew. Regular water.

V. Temari hybrids. Perennials in Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11, annuals anywhere. Low, spreading plants to 3 in. high, 2123 ft. wide. Broad, dark green leaves. Burgundy, bright pink, coral-pink, soft apricot and cream blend, lilac, violet, blue, red, or white flowers. Regular water.

V. tenera 'Sissinghurst' (Glandularia tenera 'Sissinghurst'). Perennial in Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-11, annual anywhere. Low grower to about 3 in. high and 34 ft. wide, with deeply cut, dark green foliage and a profuse show of fragrant, coral-pink flowers. Loves heat.

V. tenuisecta. MOSS VERBENA. Short-lived perennial in Zones MS, LS, CS, TS (USDA 7-11), annual in Upper South (USDA 6). Native to South America but naturalized in the Lower South. To 812 in. high, with finely cut leaves. Rose-violet to pink flowers. Short lived. Selections include white 'Alba', lavender-pink 'Edith', violet 'Michelle', violet-blue 'Imagination', and bright purple 'Decked Out'.

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