Verbena Bonariensis (Purple Top Vervain) are wonderfully mystical flowers, reminiscent of fairy tales and daydreams! These Romantic lilac clouds sway in the wind and attract all manner of Pollinators and Butterflies. A perfect flower for country gardens and urban gardens alike, these statuesque Perennial Plants keep you smiling Summer after Summer. Here is How I grow Mine…
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Let’s start with a little history! Verbena Bonariensis is actually native to Brazil and Argentina. It was first cultivated in England in 1726 by two Botanists, brothers James & William Sherard. They acquired the the Verbena Seeds from a dried specimen sent to England from Buenos Aires. Since then it has found its way into gardens all across Europe!
Verbena (Vervain) Symbolism
Want to Give Verbena as a gift? Verbena has long been associated with Creativity, Healing and Happiness.
All Good flowers have a folklore or two, Verbena is no different! In ancient Egyptian mythology, it was said Verbena (Vervain) was sacred to the goddess Isis who apparently wept vervain tears. In Ancient Rome it was placed in family homes to purify the environment. In The Middle ages it was seen as a herb of protection, used to ward of danger and potential lightning strikes.
Verbena Bonariensis Characteristics
Verbena flowers are formed in tight, cloud like clusters that measure on average 2-3 inches in Diameter. These dreamy purple clouds seem to defy gravity as they perch on top of long , slender stems, that have a wispy, barely there appearance. The leaves of the Verbena plant form mainly at the base of the plant and have serrated edges. Verbena Bonariensis can reach heights of around 120cm and a Spread of 45cm.
Otherwise known as…
South American Vervain, Argentinian Vervain, Tall Verbena, Purple Top Vervain, Pretty Verbena
First Year Flowering
Unlike most Perennials grown from seed you don’t have to a wait until the following year for some bloom action! These beauties amaze from their first summer.
Perennial or Annual ?
Technically Verbena Bonariensis is a Perennial but in cooler climates like the uk they can be sensitive to frost, so it is wise to offer them some protection over the winter months with a generous layer of mulch. Top Tip– Don’t cut away dead plant material until the following spring, this will further help the Verbena plant tolerate the winter frosts.
Will Verbena Bonariensis Self Seed
In the right conditions, Verbena plants love to self-seed, giving you surprise Verbena Pop-ups the following year.
What to Plant with Verbena Bonariensis
Verbena works wonderfully in prairie-style planting schemes with the addition of ornamental grasses, such as Stipa Tenuissima otherwise known as ‘Pony Tail Grass/ Mexican feather Grass’ or Lagurus ovatus ‘Bunny Tail’ Grass. Or do like I have-Plant alongside Cosmos for a bold statement! My planting always lacks subtlety ;o) See my ‘How To Grow Cosmos‘ post
How To Grow Verbena Bonariensis
So let’s get to it- how does one grow these fairytale clouds! Here’s how I grow mine…
How to Sow Verbena Seeds
Indoors-Sow Verbena Seeds Indoors from February – April
- Sow Verbena seeds on the surface of damp compost in trays modules or pots, do not cover with compost, Verbena seeds need light to germinate.
- Place on a sunny windowsill and cover with a Propagator lid or cling film until seedlings appear. Germination should occur within 14-21 days
- When Seedlings are large enough to handle, prick them out and pot on into individual pots. Plant out after all risk of frost has passed, around 30 cm between plants – be sure to harden them off first.
What Does Hardening Off Mean?
Plants raised indoors or in a greenhouse environment, need to be acclimatised to cooler temperatures and increased air movement for about two to three weeks before they are planted outdoors permanently . This is a ‘toughening up’ practice to prepare the plants for their new environment.
How to Harden Off
Place your plants out for a couple of hours in a shady part of the garden. The next day, leave them out again for two hours, but this time allow the plants an hour of direct sunshine in the morning. Gradually continue to increase the length of time the plants are in direct sunshine over the course of roughly two weeks.
Sow Outdoors– Sow Verbena Seeds April-May outdoors once the ground has warmed up.
Rake the Soil to a fine tilth, water, then sprinkle Verbena seeds evenly on top. Thin out to 30 cm between plants when seedlings appear.
Where to Plant Verbena bonariensis
Plant Verbena in well drained soil in a full sun spot. These beauties love their sunshine! But if a full sunshine spot is unavailable, they will tolerate part shade.
Verbena bonariensis water Requirements
Verbena is quite drought tolerant so will tolerate the heat of Summer well. My advice would be to give them a good watering once a week.
Do You Need To Stalk Verbena bonariensis?
Surprisingly? No! Though the stalks may look flimsy, they actually do a remarkable job of supporting the flowers, I have yet to see a Verbena stem snap
Do You Need to Deadhead Verbena bonariensis
Verbena has a long bloom season, from June- September and requires very little interference to maintain its beauty. However, you can deadhead any fading blooms over the summer period to keep your Verbena tidy…I tend not to bother with any Deadheading as I prefer to let the plant go to seed, it does a wonderful job of feeding the birds.
Ongoing Verbena bonariensis Care
After Blooming has finished, mulch for frost protection over winter. Cut back all dead plant matter in spring when new growth emerges from the base of the plant.
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