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COLUMN: Add verbena to the garden

Rosanne LoParco
Columnist
Posted 5/29/22

Verbena is a rock-star annual flower. It’s at home in containers, window boxes, hanging baskets and in the garden. It can take the hottest days of summer and never skip a beat.

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COLUMN: Add verbena to the garden

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Verbena is a rock-star annual flower. It’s at home in containers, window boxes, hanging baskets and in the garden. It can take the hottest days of summer and never skip a beat. The colors are all over the spectrum. Most important, the verbena is a pollinator magnet; butterflies and hummingbirds adore this plant.

Verbena is native to both Asia and the Americas. Symbolically, verbena represents healing, creativity and happiness. Verbena was used as a medicinal herb and holy plant in the Egyptian, Roman, and Greek civilizations. Today, they are prized for their ornamental value. Each year the National Garden Bureau picks an annual plant as their superstar; for 2022 it’s the verbena.

Cultural requirements

Verbenas need full sun throughout the day and well-drained soil. Shade and overly moist conditions will be death to the plants. Keep newly planted verbenas well-watered but after they are established, they can tolerate drought. Avoid overhead watering so that the foliage won’t be prone to disease issues. Verbenas don’t like a lot of fertilizer. An application of a general purpose fertilizer when you plant verbena in the garden is enough. In containers, consider fertilizing once a month.

Even though these plants are drought tolerant, they will flower better if you don’t let them stay dry for a long period of time. For prolonged flowering, deadhead the plants by cutting or pulling off spent flower heads.

Right verbena for the right place

Verbenas vary considerably in size and growth habit. Some are mounded in shape and are more ground skimming and compact, reaching 8 to 10 inches tall. However, they can spread up to 18 inches wide. There are trailing and semi-trailing varieties best suited to hanging baskets; these plants can spread over two feet. There are even varieties that can be used as ground covers.

Be sure that you select the correct variety for the space or the container. Read the label carefully; it will provide the growing habit and mature size. Never hesitate to ask your garden center professionals to help you pick the right verbena for your needs.

Problems

Powdery mildew can be an issue with verbena along with root rot. Be sure plants are in full sun all day, have good air circulation, and are in well-drained soil and not overwatered. Insects are normally not a problem for verbena.

The best thing about verbena, besides the varieties of colors, is that the plants are pollinator magnets. Expect numerous butterflies, bumblebees, and hummingbirds to visit verbena’s full heads of small blooms. Gardening with verbenas will elevate your landscape and bring beauty to containers.

These plants add interesting texture as well as color to patio containers. You’ll love their colorful branches and how well they look with other flowers and landscape plants. Whether you have a patio, balcony or a large garden space, there is a verbena for your space.

Herb and Flower Festival

The annual Herb and Flower Festival will take place from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, June 18, on the Cornell Cooperative Extension grounds and Parker F. Scripture gardens, 121 Second St., Oriskany. For more information, go online to cceoneida.com and click on the Herb & Flower Festival picture or phone 315-736-3394.

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