The verbena genus has dozens of plant species, spread throughout the globe, particularly in North America and Europe; in nursery we generally find hybrid varieties of Verbena, often derived from North American species. The verbenas are perennials, but most of the varieties we can find in nurseries tend not to withstand the rigors of winter, and therefore are very often cultivated as annuals; in addition to survival, sometimes it is also a question linked purely to aesthetic problems: over the years, the verbenas they tend to become excessively disordered and to bloom less and less.
However, there are varieties specially selected to survive the frost and grow very well even after years of cultivation in pots or in the flowerbeds of the garden.
The verbenas hybrids (we often find them with their commercial names, typically Temari and Tapien are the most widespread varieties in Italy), they have small, wrinkled and slightly leathery foliage, rough to the touch, which develops along thin fickle, herbaceous stems, which tend to become a hanging ground cover. At the apex of the stems, throughout the spring and throughout the summer, small umbrella-shaped or sphere-shaped racemes are produced, which bring numerous small flowers of very lively color, in shades of purple, blue, pink and red. There are hardly any verbenes, albeit hybrids, colored orange or yellow; indeed, typically in nurseries, to make up for this "lack" among the colors of verbenas, we find lantana, which also belong to the verben family, but are a different species, with very similar flowers.
The flowering of verbenas is very prolonged, and the development is rapid, thus allowing us to obtain a real bed of flowers, which can also cover very large flower beds; often the verbenas are also cultivated in pots, especially in hanging baskets, so as to better enjoy the falling effect of the thin branches.
The success of hybrid verbenas in gardens around the world is also due to their ease of cultivation: they are planted in a well-lit area of the garden, possibly where they can enjoy at least a few hours a day of direct sunlight; they are watered when the ground is dry, and you can enjoy the spectacle of flowering. As with many flowering plants, they do not like shade, which causes a chronic shortage of flowers, which makes the plants decidedly uninteresting. They can withstand short periods of drought, but if we want a flowerbed or pots always in bloom, and luxuriant plants, it is advisable to water them regularly, but waiting for the soil to dry well between two waterings, and intervening more often if the climate shows particularly hot and dry.
Certainly, it is good for plants, even a periodic fertilization: we will use a good fertilizer for flowering plants, every 12-15 days, mixed with the water of the watering; or a slow release granular fertilizer, to be supplied when the plants are planted.
The verbenas typically suffer in extreme situations, therefore when the humidity is high for long periods of time, or when the climate is hot and dry and are placed for many hours a day in full direct sun; they also suffer from asphyxiated, poorly fertile, or heavy soils, which excessively retain water. For this reason, usually the most beautiful and floriferous verbenas are found in areas with a mild climate, devoid of excesses, both hot and cold. So, if we live in an area with a very hot summer climate, we place the verbenas in an area where they receive only the morning sun; if instead we live in a mountainous area, with cool and humid summers, we position our verbenas in full sun, for most of the day.
The hybrid verbenes are generally well resistant to fungal diseases, such as rust and powdery mildew, in case of heavy spring rains they can however be attacked by aphids, which are promptly eradicated, or they will deprive us of the first blooms, ruining the buds.
Get the verbas from seed
Unfortunately, ground cover verbenas, commonly found in nurseries, belong to hybrid varieties, this means that from their seeds it is not known which plants we will obtain, and in general hardly from seed we will reach a verbena identical to the mother plant; in addition to this, many times the hybrid verbas tend not to be pollinated, and therefore we will hardly get fertile seeds.
However, there are many species of this genus, some of which are decidedly very decorative. The verbena is the most easily obtainable from seed, which also gives us a beautiful bloom, is Verbena bonariensis. It is a species native to Central and South America, now naturalized in most of the Mediterranean areas. It produces thin erect stems, poorly branched, rigid, which can reach about 50-70 cm in height, at the apex of each thin green stem, in summer, very small tubular flowers bloom, of lilac pink color, united in umbrella-like racemes, very particular and easily recognizable. Such verbas are grown in Italy as annuals, but the ease in producing seeds often causes the plants to self-seed, producing more plants from year to year. In areas with freezing winters the v. bonariensis is actually cultivated as a perennial plant.
The VERBENA in short
|Type of plant||Perennial herbaceous grown as an annual|
|Exposure||sun, direct light|
|Rustic||not very rustic, it does not tolerate frost|
|Ground||Rich soils, fertilization every 15 days in bloom|
|colors||Depending on the variety red, purple, purple, white|
|Irrigation||let the soil dry between 2 irrigations|
|Flowering||from April for the whole beautiful season|
|Propagation||Seed for normal verbena, hybrid division|
A medicinal plant
The name verbena comes from the Celtic language, and it seems to mean "to drive away the stone", since in ancient times the infusions of this plant were used to alleviate problems due to kidney stones. Verbena officinalis is a species widespread in nature throughout Europe; it is not a particularly beautiful or decorative plant, but simply a small officinal plant, with pinkish flowers, also present in uncultivated or in sunny grazing areas.
In fact, this medicinal plant contains many active ingredients and is still used in herbal medicine, against stones, as a drainage agent (both for topical use and for internal use), it also has antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and diuretic properties.
Verbena officinale is generally not grown in the garden, although for lovers of official plants it is not difficult to obtain the seeds, which are sown directly at home.
As mentioned, the verbena besides being a beautiful plant able to give incredible blooms on balconies and terraces throughout the warm season, it is also a plant that has remarkable phytotherapeutic properties. These properties are mainly due to components present in the plant such as verbenin, verbenone, geraniol and other active ingredients. Verbena has a positive action against depression and is able to fight bad mood and anxiety but not only. It seems that the verbena has positive effects on problems such as neuralgia and migraine. Verbena is also often recommended to facilitate lactation as it acts on the endocrine system by regularizing and improving activity. However, there are situations in which it is inadvisable to use verbena and its derivative products, such as in pregnant women or when a person is doing hormone therapy or is taking sedatives or drugs to regulate blood pressure. A good thing is therefore to consult your family doctor before relying on a verbena based phytotherapeutic treatment to be sure that there are no contraindications or problems of any kind
Verbena: Which summer flowers combine with verbena
If you have been enchanted by the beauty of Verbena and you want other plants that are grown annually and are able to give you a similar show of scents and color, here is a list of perfect summer flowers to combine with verbena.
Geraniums are certainly one of the species that best matches the verbena. These flowers, among the most known of all, are suitable for the sun and have water needs similar to those of verbena. The colors of the flowers have a range of varieties very similar to that of the verbena, which ranges from white to red, passing through the brightest colors.
Another type of plant that goes well with verbena is definitely the Petunia, a plant that loves sunny areas and produces very large, prolonged and abundant blooms with a drooping habit.
A large number of ornamental and medicinal plants, common in our gardens, belong to the Verbenaceae family
visit: verbena balcony