Groundcover Verbena Varieties – Can You Use Verbena For Groundcover

Groundcover Verbena Varieties – Can You Use Verbena For Groundcover

By: Liz Baessler

Verbena plants come in a variety of shapes and sizes. These varieties are great for groundcover, and will fill in an empty space very fast with delicate, low foliage and bright flowers. Keep reading to learn more about growing creeping verbena plants and using verbena as groundcover.

How to Use Verbena for Groundcover

While some verbena varieties grow as bushes that can reach 4 to 5 feet (1-1.5 m.) in height, there are plenty of other varieties that stay low to the ground. Some are trailing plants that spread along the ground. They put out creeping stems that root themselves easily in the ground and establish new plants.

Others are just low growing, upright plants that top out at about 1 foot (30.5 cm.) high. These plants spread out via rhizomes underground that put up new shoots nearby. Both of these styles are very low growing and fast spreading and are great options for groundcover.

When opting to use these plants for ground coverage in the garden, plant them in triangular groups with about 12-inch (30.5 cm.) spacing between them. Of course, this will vary depending on the available garden space, so take this into consideration. Knowing the total square footage can help determine the amount of plants needed to fill the area, along with their spacing.

Popular Groundcover Verbena Varieties

Here are a few common groundcover verbena plants:

Trailing Verbena – Formerly called Verbena canadensis, but now known as Glandularia canadensis, these creeping verbena plants make up a broad group that serves very well as groundcover. Some popular cultivars are “Summer Blaze,” “Snowflurry,” “Greystone Daphne,” and “Appleblossom.”

Rigid Verbena – Native to South America, these verbena plants spread quickly by underground rhizomes. They are very hardy and drought resistant. Some popular cultivars include “Polaris” and “Santos”.

Prairie Verbena – Reaching only 3 to 6 inches (7.5-15 cm.) in height, this plant produces vivid, deep purple flowers.

Peruvian Verbena – Under a foot (30.5 cm.) tall, these plants produce pink to white flowers that bloom all summer long.

Goodings Verbena – These plants produce lots of lavender flowers in the spring. They need full sun and lots of water.

Sandpaper Verbena – Producing deep purple flowers in the spring, these plants self-sow and spread by seed very quickly and run the risk of becoming invasive.

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Types of Verbenas According to Growth

Trailing Verbenas

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.

Upright Verbenas

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.

Moss Verbenas (Verbena Tenuisecta)

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.

Annual Verbenas

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.

Best Places to Grow

While some varieties of the flower grow upright and top out at a height of about three feet, most of us are probably familiar with the shorter varieties of verbena available in shades of red, purple, white, blue, and pink. These are perfect as an accent to almost any combination of other annuals.

You’ll find verbena in butterfly gardens as well. All types of pollinators from hummingbirds to butterflies to bees love these clustered flowers and will be regular visitors wherever it is found.

These are often used as a filler or a spiller plant in containers but may perk up many areas in the garden too. My favorite use for verbena is to add a red variety with red-and-orange marigolds and some dusty miller. The colors practically bark summertime, but they can pass as fall colors too!

Preparing for Winter

Whether or not you cut back the foliage on your "Homestead" verbena for winter depends on how cold your winters get. In frost-free areas, cut the foliage back as much as you like to neaten the plants or make room for cool-weather annuals. Where temperatures occasionally dip well below freezing, leave the foliage in place to help protect the crown of the plant.

Patricia Hamilton Reed has written professionally since 1987. Reed was editor of the "Grand Ledge Independent" weekly newspaper and a Capitol Hill reporter for the national newsletter "Corporate & Foundation Grants Alert." She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Michigan State University, is an avid gardener and volunteers at her local botanical garden.

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