Verbena, sometimes also called vervain, refers to a genus of annual and perennial plants in the Verbenaceae flower family. The genus consists of approximately 250 different species of flowering plants, most of which are native to Asia and America. Verbenas are renowned for producing small but showy flowers of mostly pink and purple shades although other varieties also produce blue, red or white blossoms.
Due to their hardiness, verbenas have always been prized amongst novice and expert gardeners alike. Characterized by their rapid growth, verbenas are heavy bloomers that can turn an otherwise plain garden into a dazzling display of colorful hues in no time. Be it groundcover, flowerbeds, containers, and baskets or even wall cover and window boxes, verbenas are the ideal choice for various uses. So, whether you need a flowering plant for a certain purpose or are just looking for the next best plant to grow in your own backyard, rest assured there is a verbena that will meet your gardening tastes and preferences.
Read on to discover the top-most types of verbena and learn more about the features, characteristics, growth and maintenance needs of these gorgeous beauties.
Table of Contents
- Types of Verbenas According to Growth
- Common Types of Verbena
- Purpletop Verbena (Verbena Bonariensis)
- Brazilian Verbena (Verbena Brasiliensis)
- Blue Vervain (Verbena Hastata)
- California Vervain (Verbena Californica)
- Tuberous Vervain (Verbena Rigida)
- Texas Rose Verbena
- Blue Princess Verbena
- White Vervain (Verbena Urticifolia)
- Mint Vervain (Verbena Menthifolia)
- Narrowleaf Vervain (Verbena Simplex)
Types of Verbenas According to Growth
As the name suggests, trailing verbenas are species of verbena that follow a long and spreading growth pattern. These are usually grown in hanging pots and window boxes where they can ‘trail’ out of the container, as well as near the edge of walls in order to cover it as it grows.
Needless to say, trailing verbenas require proper maintenance and periodic pruning to keep the vines in shape. Also, the dead stems must be trimmed and removed in time; otherwise they will start to rot. Trailing verbenas are available in multiple colors that include pristine white, white with pink lines, dark purple, bright pink, rich red, pale lavender and so on.
Unlike the trailing species, upright verbenas are plants that grow in a straight and upright manner. Their stalks can reach up to 6 feet high and laden with flowers, and for sure will catch every eye from afar. Upright verbena species are good for forming perennial borders or for growing along fences.
Verbena tenuisecta or moss verbenas are called so because their delicate foliage features leaves that are so fine that they resemble moss. Reaching an average height of about 5 to 6 inches, this species has the lowest growth amongst all other verbena varieties but looks equally stunning nonetheless. Moss verbenas are the ultimate fit for rock gardens but are also grown commonly besides (or in between the rocks in) walkways in a regular garden. They can tolerate frost but bloom only during late summer and early fall.
Verbenas are basically a perennial species which means that they generally live for up to two years or more. However, many types of verbena only flower once, completing their life and withering away within one year of plantation. But gardeners simply couldn’t let that get in the way. Therefore, the ‘annual’ variety of verbenas was bred by scientists to satisfy the craze for growing these magnificent charmers. As the name suggests, annual verbenas life for an entire year but what is different is that instead of blooming in summer like most of the naturally found varieties, these hybrids bloom almost all year round. So, if you are looking for plants that will truly provide long-lasting color in your garden throughout the whole year, then opting for annual verbenas is your best bet.
This type of verbenas is a large occupant of many nurseries and is available in various colors such as white, pink, purple, red and a blend of different hues.
Common Types of Verbena
Verbena Bonariensis also goes by various other names such as Purpletop vervain, Argentinian Verbena, Tall Verbena as well as Pretty Verbena. This variety originated from South America where it is a common sight in most of the warm regions of Colombia, Chile, Brazil, and Argentina. Therefore, purpletop verbena is often simply called South American Vervain in its native regions.
The plant is a true upright variety that can grow up to 6 feet tall and spread 3 feet across. The dull purple blossoms are strongly fragrant, appear during mid-summer and continue to provide a soothing sight for sore eyes until the first frost falls. Verbena Bonariensis is a pollinator attractor so, when you grow this variety also prepare to welcome a swarm of buzzing bees and cheerful butterflies flying in and out of your garden.
The term Brazilian verbena or Brazilian vervain is often used interchangeably for the purpletop verbena, but the true Brazilian verbena is actually a different species altogether. Although it is native to South America or to be more precise, Brazil, the species has spread rapidly to other regions and is perceived as an invasive weed.
The Brazilian Verbena is an herbaceous plant which means that it grows as a low-lying shrub. Usually featuring purple shades, this type of verbena produces rich clusters of five-lobed and tubular flowers coupled with small and indented leaves. Brazilian Verbena is widely spotted in natural areas as well in home gardens in various parts of North America, such as Oregon, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Virginia, Hawaii and many more.
Verbena Hastata, also known as the Blue vervain, American vervain or Swamp verbena is an herbaceous plant in the Verbenaceae family. Commonly seen all across North America, this type of verbenas is quite similar to the true Brazilian verbenas except that it can survive under more harsh weather conditions and produces beautiful blue flowers instead of purple ones.
Blue vervains are quite different from most of the other varieties in the sense that instead of growing in clusters, the flowers grows on thin and long individual branches that join together at the other end, giving the plant a unique and sophisticated look.
California Vervain (Verbena Californica)
California Vervain or the Red Hills vervain is a rather rare species of verbena whose growth is mostly limited to the Tuolumne County in California. The plant features small and slender, grass-like leaves on hairy stems that bear miniature purple flowers. The flowers contain five petals that grow closely together in small bunches.
California Vervain is unique to about a dozen spots in the Red Hills mountain range and has been listed under the endangered species because of being threatened by various factors such as cattle grazing, mining, trash dumping and other human interferences that damage its natural habitats.
Verbena Rigida or Tuberous Vervain is sometimes also called slender vervain due to its delicate plant structure. This type of verbenas is a herbaceous shrub that grown an average of 24 inches high. The plant also spread widely across and is, therefore, a good choice for garden beds as well as growing in pots and containers besides pool and patios. The leaves are toothed and stalkless and accentuated by the vibrant purple and magenta blossoms. Tuberous Vervain flowers are considerably scented and growing them in large patches will uplift the place with a dreamy fragrance. Although original verbena rigida features hues of purple, the species has been interbred to create different cultivars and hence, you can now choose tuberous verbenas from a wide range of colors.
The plant is native to South America but can be easily grown in home gardens in North America so long as there is sufficient sunlight and proper soil conditions. What makes tuberous vervain really fascinating is the shape of their petals, which look like a half hearts joined together in a circular ring (see close-up image below)
Texas Rose Verbena
A hybrid species, this type of verbena is not just a true perennial but also a real stunner. With intense pink flowers that are highlighted by the lively greens, the Texas Rose verbena is the preferred choice when it comes to quickly filling up empty spaces in the garden or nurturing a plant that will survive and flourish for a long time.
Another hybrid species, this type of verbena was bred to produce bright blue flowers. However, don’t be confused by the name. Blue Princess verbena is not always blue. While their blooms can be mild blue in color, most plants actually produce lavender-colored light purplish-blue blossoms that are hardy up to zone 10. These showy flowers start blooming from early spring and continue well until the end of fall season. These verbenas grow in round clusters that contain lots of five-petal flowers arranged in a bunch.
Verbena Urticifolia, also called nettle-leaved vervain or more commonly as white vervain is one of the true types of verbena flowers. This herbaceous species is a perennial which means it has an average lifespan of two or more years. White verbena got the alternate name nettle-leaved vervain because the leaves, stem and flower stalks are all covered in soft bristles. Starting from early summer, the plant produces small buds on racemes (spikes like structures) that blooms open into pristine white flowers. However, some plants in Verbena Urticifolia also produce slightly bluish-white flowers as well.
The seeds and fruits of white verbenas are equally unique – dark purple capsules with miniature brown seeds.
Mint Vervain (Verbena Menthifolia)
The Verbena Menthifolia species commonly known as mint vervain or mint-leaved verbena is native to northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. This species prefers open and dry habitats and grows up to a maximum of 75 cm tall. The leaves are hairy and relatively small whereas the flowers grow as inflorescences (clusters) on slender upright stems.
Verbena Simplex is another type of verbenas that is more commonly referred to as the narrow leaf verbena. This herbaceous plant originates from North America and flourishes best when grown in dry and open lands that have calcium-rich soil. Verbena simplex produces flowers that have a similar color as that of lavenders and bloom excessively throughout the summer months.
Aren’t these flowers really appealing? When the winds of summer blow, it’s time for verbenas to grow. Plant these modest charmers in your own backyard, and you will surely relish the sight once these flowers bloom.