Care-free annuals: Giving verbena a shot

Care-free annuals: Giving verbena a shot

If you find a little verbena plant to transplant into your garden, you’ll be rewarded with a magnificent and colourful bloom

Care-free annuals: Giving verbena a shot
Care-free annuals: Giving verbena a shot

Verbena

It’s hard to find anything to dislike about the verbena, which come in hundreds of varieties, as its incredibly bright and colourful bloom is a favourite amongst all gardeners. However, if you don’t live in Zones 6 to 10 where verbena is hardy, you’ll simply have to treat it as an annual.

1. Start with a plant, not a seed

Verbena is fairly tricky to start it from seed, so save yourself a potential headache by buying it from your nursery when it’s already grown a bit. You also have the option of planting it from cuttings; if you choose this method, just use a wire to pin it to the soil so it can make roots.

2. Water and sun

This woody-stem plant is a bit like Goldilocks: it likes just the right amount of water (not too wet, not too dry). During the period when you’re settling it in and it’s taking root, you can water it a bit more than usual but make sure the soil never gets soggy. If this should happen, counteract it with compost or leaf soil.

As for sun, plant the verbena in a full sun location where it faces either south or west. It needs at least six hours of direct sunlight each day or else it won’t grow to its full potential. When they do grow to their full size, verbena do really well under taller, leggier plants and are a fantastic way to fill in bare spots in your garden. If you have the time and patience, you can also interweave them around other plants for a rich, braided look.

3. Ongoing maintenance

The plant will wilt and droop with too much water, along with inviting the fungal disease bortyris blight. You can recognize it by its unopening, rotting flower buds, fuzzy greyish brown growth on the leaves and decaying shoots and leaves. Along with sulfur powders and sprays, you can help keep bortyris blight at bay by massively easing up on watering and pruning the interior to encourage more airflow.

At the other end of the spectrum is when the verbena becomes too dry. The leaves will become crispy and brittle and the plant will take on a faded look. Water it right away but don’t overdo it, as that will overcompensate too much. But it’s best to avoid drought with the verbena, as being too dry can attract spider mites. Use a chemical spray specifically designed for spider mites, or invest in ladybugs to get rid of them naturally.

Fertilize and deadhead your verbena about once a month and you’ll be rewarded with a gorgeous bloom during the season.


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