In My Garden: Verbena

Friday, October 02, 2015

During Mother's Day this year, I visited a nursery in Cedar City and found this little leafy plant that had small pink blooms all over it. The lady working there told me it was great for using as a spiller in pots, so I grabbed one for my mother-in-law and one for me. Little did I know, this plant would bush out so beautifully that I would buy more in other colors a few weeks later. These flowers are extremely easy to care for, and fill out where they're planted quickly. Simple deadheading keeps the plant in bloom week after week. It's now October, and they're pretty much the only thing in bloom anymore on my patio. 



Basics

Light: Partial shade to full sun
Type: Annual, Perennial
Flower Color: Blue, Pink, Red, White
Spacing: 14 - 16" (36 - 41cm)
Size: Height: 12-14" / Width: 12-16"
Blooms in: Spring, Summer, Autumn  
Habit: Mounded
Special Features: Fragrance, Good for Containers, Deer Resistant 
Hardiness Zones: 7-9

Planting Verbena

Plant in locations that will provide good air circulation. Verbena works really well in strips along driveways and hanging baskets. I tucked my pink verbena into a pot that needed a little something extra and in no time it was spreading out over the edge and making everything look pretty. They bush out nicely and burst with color! All types of verbena need full sun for their best performance. Plant verbena in the sunniest and driest part of your garden, as they prefer little humidity. You’ll want to locate the plant where it gets roughly 8 to 10 hours of sun during the day. Partial shade is ok, but it will bloom less than if in full sun. Verbena loves hot weather, as well. 


Verbena Blooms:

Flowers come in many different hues and provide color from Spring through Fall. Blooms appear in clusters of small flowers at the tops of stems. Pinch off spent bloom clusters just below the beginning of the cluster to encourage constant blooming. When blooms slow down, trim the entire plant back by one fourth for a new flush of blooms in a couple of weeks. Fertilize the plant lightly following the trim and give it a good watering.

Soil and Irrigation

Verbena flowers do very well with little to moderate water. They even tolerated the very hot and dry days (over 110 F!) on my patio with a drink every evening. Verbena are not super needy about soil types, except that it needs to drain well. Poor soil is not an issue for them to grow, as long as it drains. Verbena are drought resistant, but the blooms are more abundant with regular watering. Water the plant at the base to avoid wetting the foliage. If it rains at least an inch weekly in your area, you might not even need to water them much at all. 

Common Issues of Growing Verbena

Mildew can be a problem which is why it is best to have good air circulation around the plants. Watering at the base helps prevent mildew on the leaves.


Uses for Verbena

Verbena is actually used as a natural medicine. Some of its uses include: sore throats, respiratory tract diseases such as asthma and whooping cough, heart conditions like chest pain and fluid retention due to heart failure.

Verbena can also be used for issues like depression, hysteria, generalized seizure, gallbladder pain, arthritis, gout, metabolic disorders, anemia, and fever. Other uses include treatment of pain, spasms, exhaustion, nervous conditions, digestive disorders, liver and gallbladder diseases, jaundice, and kidney and lower urinary tract disorders.

Women can use verbena for treating symptoms of menopause, irregular menstruation, and increasing milk flow for breast-feeding.

Some people will apply verbena directly to their skin to treat poorly healing wounds, abscesses and burns, arthritis, joint pain, dislocations, bone bruises, and itching. It can also be used as a gargle for cold symptoms and other mouth and throat conditions.

Verbena flowers are also used as flavoring in some alcoholic drinks.

Why do people use it?

Verbena is thought to contain chemicals that act as an anti-inflammatory. 

Do you grow verbena? If so, do you use it medicinally? I haven't, and am curious if it really works. What colors of verbena do you grow? Please share your comments, questions, and gardening tips or tricks in the comments below. I'd love to hear from you. 



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