Verbena bonariensis

by Adam Pasco

Will our love affair with Verbena bonariensis ever wane? This fabulous flower looks as good growing individually among low border plants as it does planted en masse.

Large colony of Verbena bonariensis in flowerWill our love affair with Verbena bonariensis ever wane? This fabulous flower looks as good growing individually among low border plants as it does planted en masse. The open, airy quality of the stems only adds to the appeal. Wildlife loves V. bonariensis too, with bees and butterflies flitting from flower to flower all summer.

I've spotted several local authorities using V. bonariensis in flower displays on roundabouts, so that's a sure endorsement of its reliability and performance.

While this verbena is often classed as a perennial, most gardeners treat it as an annual. Old plants can be cut down to their base each winter, and new shoots do often develop the following spring. However, for a reliable display (like the one shown in the picture, above) I'd recommend sowing fresh seed in March/April in a warm greenhouse or on a windowsill.

When it comes to self-seeding, this generous verbena usually obliges each summer. Just let the seed fall from plants where they grow, and with luck you'll enjoy a nice crop of seedlings next year, to either leave to bloom or lift and transplant elsewhere.

So, which other flowers are as generous as V. bonariensis in their self-seeding habit? In my garden I'm rewarded with seedlings of foxgloves, hellebores, aquilegia, Jacob's ladder, lemon balm and chives, among many others.

Is your garden as generous?

Discuss this blog post

Talkback: Verbena bonariensis
Your comment will appear after a quick registration step

Gardeners' World Web User 09/08/2010 at 11:21

My borage loves to escape from the veg patch to the borders, as do English marigolds. Valerian and buddlia do almost too much. But I love plants for free, not just because of my Scots ancestry but it means the plants are right at home with me.

Gardeners' World Web User 09/08/2010 at 15:43

I love Welsh poppies (meconopsis cambrica). Some people don't like the fact they self seed everywhere, but I see them as a gift of nature. I used to have only yellow ones because I wanted a more controlled colour selection, but I threw down some orange seed just to mix things up and add to the colour of the wallflowers. You can control them by not letting them go to seed if you are fussy. Verbena Bonariensis one of my all time favourites, it really brings everything the garden together.

Gardeners' World Web User 10/08/2010 at 17:34

Yes also looks good with Perovskia, this photo from Savill Gardens. Of course the yew hedge behind makes the picture too?

Gardeners' World Web User 11/08/2010 at 13:01

I too love Verbena bonariensis, I grew it from seed many years ago. I took plants with me when my husband and I moved to Spain and they self seeded prolifically around our plot in the mountains and looked great growing alongside the wild flowers and grasses. My Spanish neighbours loved them too. We returned to the UK a few years ago and brought our plants back with us. Unfortunately the severe weather we had last winter killed off my large Verbena bon. plants along with several others, but luckily I never cut down my perennials until Spring and now have lots of seedlings popping up everywhere, I just dig them up and move them where they are needed or pot them up and give them to family and friends. I have two wonderful Lupin plants that suddenly appeared last year as seedlings also oriental poppies spring up everywhere, I've never planted any neither have my neighbours so I presume I have the birds to thank. When my foxgloves and aquilegia seed pods turn brown I assist them by giving them a little shake, then cut some off and scatter them elsewhere - I just love plants for free.

Gardeners' World Web User 12/08/2010 at 09:28

My garden is currently a competition between ox eye daisy and oregano trying to out do each other and colonise the whole patch. they have even reached the front garden some how.

See more comments...