How to Grow and Care For Verbena Plants

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Verbena plants, also known as vervain or verbena, are a type of perennial flowering plant that is known for its vibrant, colorful blooms. They come in a variety of colors, including purple, pink, red, and white. Verbena plants are easy to grow, drought-tolerant, and attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. They are often used as bedding plants, in hanging baskets, or as groundcovers.

How to Grow Verbena Plants from Seed

  1. Start your seeds indoors: Verbena seeds should be started indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost. Fill a seed tray or pots with seed compost and make a small hole in the center of each compartment. Sow one seed in each hole and cover with a thin layer of compost. Water the seeds and keep them moist.
  2. Provide warmth: Verbena seeds need a warm environment to germinate, so keep the seed tray or pots in a warm room (around 70-75°F) or in a propagator with a heating pad.
  3. Provide light: Once the seeds have germinated, move them to a sunny windowsill or place them under grow lights. Make sure they receive at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day.
  4. Transplant: Once the seedlings have grown large enough, transplant them into individual pots. Water them well and keep them indoors until all danger of frost has passed.
  5. Plant outdoors: When the weather has warmed up and all danger of frost has passed, transplant the verbena seedlings into the garden. Choose a sunny spot with well-draining soil and space them about 18 inches apart.
  6. Water and fertilize: Water the verbena plants regularly and fertilize them with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer once a month during the growing season.

How to Prune Verbena Plants

  1. Deadhead regularly: Deadheading, or removing spent blooms, is an important step in maintaining verbena plants. This will encourage the plant to produce more flowers and prevent it from going to seed.
  2. Pinch back tips: Pinching back the tips of verbena plants will promote bushier growth. This should be done when the plants are young, before they reach 6 inches in height.
  3. Trim back in fall: In the fall, trim back the verbena plants to the ground. This will remove any diseased or damaged growth and prepare the plant for the winter.
  4. Cut back leggy plants: If your verbena plants become leggy, they can be cut back by up to one-third of their height. This will promote bushier growth and more flowers.
  5. Do not over prune: Be careful not to over prune verbena plants, as this can cause stress and reduce blooming.

Different Ways to Propagate Verbena Plants

There are several ways to propagate verbena plants, including:

  1. Seed: Growing verbena plants from seed is the most common method of propagation. Seeds can be started indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost and transplanted into the garden when all danger of frost has passed.
  2. Cuttings: Verbena plants can also be propagated by taking stem cuttings. Take a 4-6 inch stem cutting from a healthy verbena plant, remove the leaves from the bottom half and dip the cut end in rooting hormone. Place the cutting in a container filled with moist potting soil and cover with a plastic bag to keep the humidity high. Keep the cutting in a warm location with indirect sunlight until roots have formed.
  3. Layering: Verbena plants can also be propagated by layering. Bend a stem down to the ground and cover it with soil, leaving the tip exposed. Roots will form where the stem is in contact with the soil and the stem can be severed from the parent plant once roots have formed.
  4. Division: Verbena plants can also be propagated by dividing the root clump. Carefully dig up the plant and separate it into smaller clumps, each with a portion of the roots. Replant the divisions in a new location.

Different Types of Verbena Plants?

There are many different types of verbena plants, each with their own unique characteristics and features. Here are a few popular varieties:

  1. V. bonariensis: This tall, vigorous perennial verbena is native to South America. It has clusters of small, lavender-purple flowers that bloom from summer to fall.
  2. V. x hybrida: This is a hybrid verbena that is a cross between V. bonariensis and V. rigida. It is a more compact, but equally vigorous grower, with clusters of small, brightly colored flowers.
  3. V. lanaiensis: This is a trailing, perennial verbena that is commonly used in hanging baskets and window boxes. It has small, brightly colored flowers that bloom continuously from spring to fall.
  4. V. rigida: This is a small, perennial verbena that is native to North America. It has small, bright purple flowers that bloom from summer to fall.
  5. V. x hybrida ‘Tapien’: This is a hybrid verbena that forms low mounds of foliage and produces clusters of small, brightly colored flowers.
  6. V. grandiflora: This is a perennial verbena that forms a low-growing, spreading habit, with large clusters of small, brightly colored flowers.
  7. V. hastata: This is a tall, perennial verbena that has spikes of blue, purple, or white flowers. This can grow up to 4 ft tall and is native to North America.
  8. V. x hybrida ‘Lascar’: This is a hybrid verbena that forms low mounds of foliage and produces clusters of large, brightly colored flowers.
  9. V. x hybrida ‘Homestead Purple’: This is a hybrid verbena that forms low mounds of foliage and produces clusters of small, deep purple flowers.
  10. V. x hybrida ‘Lollipop’: This is a compact hybrid verbena, and forms a mounded habit with clusters of small, brightly colored flowers.

How to Protect Verbena Plants from Overwintering

To protect verbena plants from overwintering, there are a few steps you can take:

  1. Choose hardy varieties: Some verbena varieties are more tolerant of cold temperatures than others. If you live in a region with harsh winters, choose a hardy variety that is known to survive in your area.
  2. Provide protection: If you live in a region with harsh winters, you can protect your verbena plants by covering them with a frost blanket or burlap. This will provide insulation and help to keep the plants from freezing.
  3. Move container plants indoors: If you have verbena plants in containers, it is best to move them indoors before the first frost. Keep them in a sunny location and water them regularly.
  4. Mulch: Mulching around the base of your verbena plants can help to insulate the soil and keep the roots warm during the winter months.
  5. Prune: Before the first frost, prune your verbena plants back to about 6 inches. This will help to remove any diseased or damaged foliage and encourage new growth in the spring.
  6. Watering: Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged during the winter, as dry soil can lead to root damage, and wet soil can lead to rot.

Different Pests and Diseases that Attack Verbena Plants

Verbena plants can be susceptible to a variety of pests and diseases. Here are a few common ones:

  1. Aphids: These small, pear-shaped insects can damage verbena plants by feeding on the sap of the leaves, causing yellowing and wilting.
  2. Whiteflies: These small, white, moth-like insects can damage verbena plants by feeding on the sap of the leaves. They also excrete a sticky substance called honeydew, which can encourage the growth of sooty mold.
  3. Spider mites: These tiny, eight-legged arthropods can damage verbena plants by feeding on the sap of the leaves, causing yellowing, bronzing, or stippling. They are most commonly found in hot and dry conditions
  4. Thrips: These tiny, slender insects can damage verbena plants by feeding on the sap of the leaves and flowers, causing distorted growth and discoloration.
  5. Powdery mildew: This fungal disease can cause a white, powdery growth on the leaves, stems, and flowers of verbena plants. It thrives in warm and humid conditions.
  6. Root rot: This fungal disease can cause the roots of verbena plants to rot, leading to wilting, yellowing, and eventual plant death. It occurs in poorly drained soils or when the soil is kept too wet.
  7. Botrytis blight: This fungal disease can cause brown, water-soaked spots on the leaves, stems, and flowers of verbena plants, eventually leading to leaf drop. It thrives in cool, humid conditions.

FAQs Related to Verbena Plants

Q: What are some common uses for verbena plants?

Verbena plants are commonly used as ornamental plants in gardens and landscapes. They are also used in container gardens, hanging baskets, and as ground cover. Some species are used for medicinal purposes and for making tea.

Q: How often should I water verbena plants?

Verbena plants prefer well-draining soil and should be kept evenly moist. It’s important to not over-water or under-water verbena plants as over-watering can lead to root rot, and under-watering can cause the plant to wilt. In general, it’s best to wait until the top inch of soil is dry before watering.

Q: How much sunlight do verbena plants need?

Verbena plants prefer full sun to light shade. They need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day to thrive.

Q: How do I propagate verbena plants?

Verbena plants can be propagated in a variety of ways, including seed, stem cuttings, and root cuttings. They can also be propagated by layering, which is a method of rooting a stem while it is still attached to the parent plant.

Q: How do I deal with pests and diseases on verbena plants?

To deal with pests and diseases on verbena plants, it is important to keep an eye out for signs of infestation or infection and take appropriate action. This can include using insecticides or fungicides, providing proper care and maintenance, and removing and destroying infected plants. It’s also important to practice good gardening practices such as proper spacing, adequate sunlight, and good drainage to avoid overcrowding, which can lead to disease. Regularly inspecting and monitoring the plants is key to early detection and control of any issue.

Q: Are verbena plants annual or perennial?

The majority of verbena plants are annuals, meaning they grow, flower and die within one year. However, some species of verbena are perennials and will come back year after year.

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