Verbena bonariensis

How to grow Verbena bonariensis

We provide all the information you need on growing Verbena bonariensis, in this practical Grow Guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Do not Sow in January

Do not Sow in February

Do not Sow in March

Do Sow in April

Do Sow in May

Do not Sow in June

Do not Sow in July

Do not Sow in August

Do not Sow in September

Do not Sow in October

Do not Sow in November

Do not Sow in December


Do not Plant in January

Do not Plant in February

Do not Plant in March

Do Plant in April

Do Plant in May

Do not Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do not Plant in September

Do not Plant in October

Do not Plant in November

Do not Plant in December


Plant does not flower in January

Plant does not flower in February

Plant does not flower in March

Plant does not flower in April

Plant does not flower in May

Plant does flower in June

Plant does flower in July

Plant does flower in August

Plant does flower in September

Plant does not flower in October

Plant does not flower in November

Plant does not flower in December

Cut back
Cut back

Do not Cut back in January

Do not Cut back in February

Do Cut back in March

Do not Cut back in April

Do not Cut back in May

Do not Cut back in June

Do not Cut back in July

Do not Cut back in August

Do not Cut back in September

Do not Cut back in October

Do not Cut back in November

Do not Cut back in December

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:

Find out how to grow Verbena bonariensis, below.

Where to plant Verbena bonariensis

Verbena bonariensis and ipomoea lobata
Verbena bonariensis and ipomoea lobata

Grow Verbena bonariensis in moderately fertile, well-drained soil in full sun.

How to plant Verbena bonariensis

Sowing Verbena bonariensis seeds in pots
Sowing Verbena bonariensis seeds in a pot

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 flowerhead
Verbena bonariensis flowerheads

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

Verbena bonariensis lollipop with tortoiseshell butterfly
Verbena bonariensis with tortoiseshell butterfly

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

Verbena bonariensis lollipop with lagurus ovatus
Verbena bonariensis ‘Lollipop’ with Lagurus ovatus

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