Verbena bonariensis lilac-purple flower heads look spectacular swaying gently in the breeze in the late summer sun. It is part of the Verbenaceae family and a wild growing native of South America where it is commonly called Argentinian Vervain. Indeed the name bonariensis is thought to derive from the Latin meaning 'from Buenos Aires'.
Cultivated here in the UK as a herbaceous perennial, Verbena bonariensis can grow to over 4ft tall given the right conditions, and spread to a large clump of slender stalks which have clusters of flowers at the top which are slightly fragrant and loved by pollinating butterflies and bees.
Verbena bonariensis flowers from August through to October here in Southern England so is ideal if you want to add late summer colour. It is ideally placed in the middle or back of your herbaceous border given it's height. They are reasonably easy to grow, largely pest free although mildly susceptible to powdery mildew in Autumn. Readily available in the UK as a potted plant or from seed they do best in well drained loamy soil in full sun and are fairly drought tolerant. Seeds can be sown directly into the ground in early spring.
Once your semi hardy Verbena has finished flowering and has succumb to the first frost you should cut your plant down two thirds. Propagating Verbena bonariensis is fairly easy as every following Spring you will find that the dozens of seeds that your plant shed in autumn have sprouted shoots so you should have more than enough to transplant elsewhere or let naturalize if required.
Pictures : Top. The George Inn Pub, North Hampshire, Southern England, pictures 2-6 Verbena Bonariensis, Bottom. Enjoying a pint or a glass of wine at the George Inn.
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