Verbena has been named the 2022 annual flower of the year by the National Gardening Bureau. Plants are chosen because they are popular, easy-to-grow, widely adaptable, genetically diverse, and versatile. Annual verbena is a great spiller to add to your containers or can also be used as a groundcover. There are also varieties that can grow up to four feet tall. The plant is winter hardy for zones 8-11.
Verbena has a long history of use in traditional medicine, with Native American tribes using it for a variety of purposes. Verbena can be used to make herbal tea, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. When used as an herbal tea, verbena can help with menstrual cramps and headaches.
Today, Verbena is used for its ornamental value. Most verbenas available today are hybrid cultivars bred to produce great combinations of different verbena. These verbenas typically have larger, bright colorful flowers, and the leaves are more weather tolerant. They are bred to manage more heat and water stress and are disease tolerant, especially powdery mildew.
The flowers appear in small clusters with five petals. Verbena comes in an assortment of colors, including shades of pink, purple, red, coral, blue-violet, white and bicolored. They bloom from June until October and are mostly found in the southern United States. Verbena plants tolerate midsummer drought and baking heat with very few issues. Verbena plants are also popular with beekeepers because they provide nectar for bees during their summer months.
The best conditions for growing Verbena plants are full sun with moist soil but it can still grow in partial shade with dryer soil conditions. Once you have decided on the right spot for your verbena plants get them planted. To keep your plants flowering, deadhead verbena by cutting or pulling off the spent flowers. Make sure the soil is kept moist, but not wet as they do not like soggy soil. If the soil dries up too much the plant can lose color and blooms but will remain green and leafy.
Here are five popular Verbena varieties to consider growing:
Beats™: This new series is known for its compact size. It is a wonderful choice for small patio pots and tabletops. With this variety, you will have eye-catching colors all summer long.
Lanai®: Lanai is known for its distinct color patterns that include, bright colors, and contrasting eyes or centers that remain strong throughout the growing season. Known for its semi-trailing verbena it can spread up to two feet. This variety has one of the longest bloom seasons.
Superbena®: Proven Winners® developed this verbena hybrid to be more mildew resistant and resilient than older varieties. These plants have larger flowers and are available in different colors and patterns.
Tapien®: This verbena is known for its trailing growth habit. It can spread up to three feet and is low growing making it an excellent groundcover. The plant constantly blooms and is also mildew resistant. It also has good cold and heat tolerance.
Tuscany®: Tuscany variety can be grown from seed. It grows upright and is perfect for small and medium-sized containers. This variety gives your garden big blooms and bright, sunny colors.
Let us know if you grow verbena!
Photos courtesy of The National Garden Bureau