Wake up and smell the – Verbena Bonariensis

Verbena Bonariensis was ‘hot’

Verbena bonariensis first came into my garden in Socal fifteen or so years ago. For a few years in the 90’s, it was the ‘hot’ garden plant. Garden columnists would gush about VB because of it’s airy growth pattern. They called it a ‘see through’ plant. It is tall with wiry stems, slender leaves and balls of lavender flowers at the top. As with most ‘hot’ items, plants were expensive and these were tight budget years for me but I did purchase one plant which I put in the rose bed. VB’s airy stems and bright flowers made a nice companion for the more stolid rose bushes and I discovered, happily that once you have VB, you always have VB because it seeds and grows easily. VB is a tender perennial from South America so when I moved to the foothills, I wasn’t sure how it would fare. My thinking was that it would be too cold here for it. Imagine my surprise when I found plants at a local nursery my first year here.

I was reluctant to try it in Nocal

I wasn’t about to waste my resources on VB early on in my foothill garden so I didn’t buy it. I had enough responsibility trying to nurture the plumerias and hibiscus which I hoped to keep alive in this hostile climate. I wasn’t going to take on any new risks. Happily, I found VB seeds in a catalog and couldn’t resist buying a packet. I discovered that VB is incredibly easy to grow from seeds. I planted my VB seedlings in the garden where they grew easily and survived even last winter’s freeze. Now volunteers appear in odd places around my yard and I continually add new plants to my beds. The unusual growth pattern means that bright lavender flowers seem to float in the air with no visible support all around my yard.

VB is a winner

I love VB. It has proven itself s reliable plant both in Socal and now in Nocal. It is hardier than I thought and will survive in zone 7. It has an unusual growth pattern with airy, see-through stems and bright lavender flowers. It self-sows volunteers and is easy to propagate from cuttings. Finally, it is well behaved. It fills it’s space and no more. In my book VB is a ten, easily justifying the raves from the garden mavens years ago. Every gardener in zone 7 and higher should have VB because it is a dependable, beautiful and unique plant.  Do any readers have experience with VB? I would love to hear, especially if you are from someplace colder than zone 7. Does anybody grow it as an annual?

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Dave Doolin June 10, 2010, 6:32 pm

    If I recall, it smells nice too. Am I right about that?

    I think you could grow a fig if you had a protected southwestern facing corner that got a lot of light.

  • Ralph June 10, 2010, 8:44 pm

    I have not noticed a fragrance. Not sure about figs. In Socal, either bugs or squirrels got the fruit before it was ready to eat.
    Ralph’s last Blog Post ..Wake up and smell the – Verbena Bonariensis

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