Veronicas, also known as speedwells, are hardy long-lived garden plants that bloom in late spring or summer with pretty flowers that are mostly shades of blue, with some whites and reds. Veronica flowers are mostly individually tiny, with many clustered together to form upright spikes, spires, or clusters. Low maintenance, free from most pests and diseases and attractive to pollinators, they deserve to be more widely grown. Plant height varies from 10cm to 60cm, and plant spread from 20cm to 60cm. Veronicas are divided into three groups:
- Herbaceous perennials: These are long-lived, dying back to the ground in autumn and regrowing in spring
- Dwarf veronicas: These have low, spreading growth on slender woody stems and are often referred to as alpines, as they are suitable for rock gardens
- Moisture-loving veronicas: This type needs to grow in shallow water or boggy soil
How to grow veronicas
Veronicas can be grown in a range of places such as borders, rockeries and raised beds or pond edges, depending on the variety. Veronicas are easy to grow and need little care apart from cutting back herbaceous varieties at the end of the season.
Veronica plants: jump links
- Planting veronica
- Caring for veronica
- Propagating veronica
- Growing veronica: problem-solving
- Buying veronica
- Best veronicas to grow
Where to grow veronica
Grow herbaceous perennial veronicas in borders in fertile, moisture-retentive soil in sun or part shade. Dwarf alpine species do best in sun and are ideal for rockeries, banks or raised beds as they need well-drained soil that is low in nutrients or grow at the edges of borders if the soil is suitable. Grow moisture-loving veronicas in shallow water or boggy soil in sun or part shade.
How to plant veronica
Plant veronicas at any time of year, although autumn or spring are the most favourable times for plants to establish. Space plants 30cm-60cm apart depending on variety size and keep watered until established.
Caring for veronica
Little maintenance is required. Cut back herbaceous perennial and moisture-loving varieties from late autumn to late winter, once growth has died back to the ground.
How to propagate veronica
Herbaceous perennial veronicas in borders can be propagated by division whilst dormant, in autumn or early spring. Moisture-loving veronicas are best divided during summer. Dwarf alpine veronicas can be propagated by cuttings taken in spring.
Growing veronica: problem solving
Veronicas are easy to grow and trouble-free so long as the right type of plant is matched to the right spot. If the growing conditions are either too wet or too dry for the variety, plants may suffer from downy mildew or powdery mildew.
Advice on buying veronica
- Veronica plants are available at garden centres in spring and summer. For the best selection, visit a specialist nursery or buy online
- Veronicas are listed by plant type. Border veronicas are herbaceous perenials, dwarf varieties are listed as alpines and moisture-loving veronicas are listed as marginal or aquatic plants
- Check that plants are healthy, with no signs of pests or diseases
Where to buy veronica plants online
Best varieties of veronica to grow
- Veronica gentianoides ‘Tissington White’ – forms a dense mat of thick, dark green foliage, from which tall spires of white/pale blue flowers appear in early summer. It’s a magnet for bees and looks good growing among other perennials at the front of a mixed herbaceous border.
Height x Spread: 60cm x 60cm
- Veronica spicata ‘Royal Candles’ – spires deep blue-purple flowers from June to August. Great for the front of a border.
H x S: 50cm x 30cm
- Veronica beccabunga (brooklime) – a British native. This spreading, moisture-loving variety is good for edging a pond.
H x S: 15cm x 100cm
- Veronica spicata ‘Bubblegum Candles’ – a new compact, free-flowering variety with rosy pink spires.
H x S: 20cm x 30cm