Verbena bonariensis is a unique plant loved by fans of prairie-style planting and by butterflies and pollinators. The tall stiff stems tower gracefully above many other companion plants, growing up to 2m. They bear clusters of bright purple flowers through the summer months and well into September. If you’re looking for elegance and style when planting for wildlife, Verbena bonariensis is a must.
How to grow Verbena bonariensis
Grow Verbena bonariensis in moist but well-drained soil in a sunny, sheltered position. Leave flowers to develop seedheads for the birds and, in mild regions, cut back before growth starts again in spring (plants might not survive winter in colder regions). If happy, plants will self-seed but you can also propagate them from cuttings.
More on growing Verbena bonariensis:
- How to take cuttings of Verbena bonariensis
- What to grow with Verbena bonariensis
- Growing Verbena bonariensis from seed
Find out how to grow Verbena bonariensis, below.
Where to plant Verbena bonariensis
Grow Verbena bonariensis in moderately fertile, well-drained soil in full sun.
How to plant Verbena bonariensis
You can grow Verbena bonariensis from seed. Seeds can be sown directly in the ground where they are to grow, in spring. Or you can start them off early, in late winter, using modules filled with compost and keep these under glass. Pot on when seedlings are large enough to handle, and plant them outside after the danger of frost has passed.
Looking after Verbena bonariensis
Verbena bonariensis doesn’t need staking, despite its height, as the stems are stiff and wiry. In fact an established plant can provide support for neighbouring perennials in a mixed border. Flowers also don’t need deadheading.
Plants look good left standing after the flowering period has ended, and through the months of decay, but don’t survive cold winters well. The key to ensuring that Verbena bonariensis overwinters successfully is to protect the crown of the plant from frost, particularly in colder regions where they are borderline hardy. The dead stalks can be left to provide winter interest, but an autumn mulch with well-rotted manure or a covering of straw, will protect the roots from frost.
Cut back the old stems in spring, as new shoots start to show at the base of the plant.
Propagating Verbena bonariensis
Given the right conditions, plants will self-seed freely. However, the most reliable method of propagating Verbena bonariensis is to take cuttings in early autumn.
Verbena bonariensis: problem solving
With the right growing conditions and a little protection over winter, Verbena bonariensis is a trouble-free garden plant. However, in some areas, particularly where growing conditions are hot and dry, it can become invasive.
Verbena bonariensis varieties to try
While there are many annual and perennial varieties of the verbena family that are popular with gardeners, Verbena bonariensis is alone of its species and there’s only one cultivar currently available.
- Verbena bonariensis ‘Lollipop’ – this is a low-growing version of the original species. With a maximum height of 60cm, ‘Lollipop’ works in smaller gardens and containers, and at the front of borders, where the nodding clusters of flowers contrast beautifully with ground-hugging plants like Alchemilla mollis