Verbena Plant Care: How To Grow Verbena

Growing verbena plants is a fantastic way for you to add beautiful flowers to your yard and garden. By growing verbena plants, you can help ensure that your landscape is full of blooming beauty all year long!

Growing Verbena plants requires only moderate effort, especially when they are grown in a pot. Understanding how to grow Verbena plants is crucial to creating the garden of your dreams.

“Tears of Isis” is a common name for verbena, and it’s one of the coolest flower names I’ve ever seen. Verbena is native to the Americas and Asia but it’s popular all over the world. The plant is used as a ward against evil and has been used to stanch the wounds of Jesus after his removal from the cross, although that may be apocryphal. Verbena—a perennial or an annual—can also be grown as an herb and has pestered me this summer because it blew into my herb bed!

Verbenas come in an array of cheerful hues including red, pink, apricot, lavender, purple, blue, and white. Clusters of small star-shaped flowers on mounding or trailing plants are complemented by green-lanced-shaped leaves with finely toothed edges.

Verbena flower
Verbena flower

Planting and caring for Verbena

To grow most varieties of peppers, choose a spot with good air circulation and at least 6-8 hours of full sun each day. Plant seeds 12-18″ apart depending on the type.

If you want to plant a Verbena, loosen the soil in the planting area to a depth of six to twelve inches. Take off the plant from its nursery pot and loosen the roots if they’re bound in the pot. Set it on top of the root ball with the top of its leaves at level with the surrounding soil.

Backfill with soil and tamp down lightly to remove air pockets. Water regularly until plants are established. Pinch off the first flowers on your pepper plants. This will cause them to produce more leaves, which is what you’re after. You can also pinch back the growing tips of your plant if it has grown taller than expected and is shading other plants in your garden bed.

Best Places to Grow Verbena

Although some varieties of the flower grow upright and top out at about three feet, most of us are probably familiar with shorter versions available in shades of red, purple white blue (or pinks). These make great accents for almost any combination of other annuals.

Butterfly gardens contain verbena, which draws a wide variety of pollinators like hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees.

Verbena is often used as a filler or spiller plant in containers but may perk up many areas in the garden too. My favorite use for verbena is to add it with red-and-orange marigolds and some dusty miller—a combination that practically barks summertime! However, you can also make these plants work well into fall by combining them with yellow flowers instead of orange ones. Verbena also makes a gorgeous border for a garden or flower bed.

Growing Essentials of Verbena

Verbena is known for its sunny disposition. In fact, it wants at least six hours of sunshine a day and prefers well-drained soil but is not picky about the quality of the soil. It also needs about an inch of rain a week. Those requirements are not unusual for most annuals, but unlike other, tougher plants, verbena does not recover well from lapses in care. Without regular attention, it will turn into a burnt-up, flowerless clump of unappealing foliage.

Fortunately, your flowers will be okay if you give them a little extra care. If you’re growing your flowers in the ground, they’ll require less attention since their roots can “dig deeper” and often solve their own problems. Container-grown plants need much more frequent and regular care since they’re in a more isolated environment.

Soil requirements for Verbena

Verbena grows best in soil amended with compost, but it can adapt to many types of soil as long as drainage is good. If the soil is compacted or clayey and doesn’t drain well, root rot may result.

Watering requirements for Verbena

Verbena does best in moderately moist soil but can tolerate some drought. Too much water can result in root rot or mildew. Provide regular water and allow the soil to dry out between watering if you don’t have a reliable irrigation system; otherwise, irrigate more frequently during prolonged heat or dry spells.


Annuals grow best when you feed them regularly—at least once a month during the growing season. In this guide, we’ll explain how to choose and apply slow-release all-purpose fertilizers or water-soluble ones like Miracle Grow.


Deadhead spent flowers. You can cut back groundcover and trailing plants several times during the growing season to stimulate new growth, as well as flowering. Cut back up to 1/4 of the stem length; you may also need trimming if they outgrow their space.


You can take stem cuttings in spring or summer and grow them in a warm, well-lit area. Use rooting hormone for best results.

Verbena plant types

Verbenas come in many different types. These are some of the most popular:

Purpletop verbena (V. bonariensis), also known as tall verbena, An upright form with purple flowers, Salvia clevelandii is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 7–11 and grows 3-6′ tall and 1-3′ wide. Highly attractive to butterflies and other pollinating insects—making it useful as a background or structural plant—its open airy form makes this salvia perfect for attracting wildlife into your garden!

Garden verbena (V. x hybrida), with a mounding or trailing habit, The kind most often grown is a beauty that can reach 6-18” tall and 12-30’ wide. Hardy in USDA zones 8–11, this tender perennial is usually treated as an annual plant—but many varieties come with great flowering colors to attract bees! Popular for hanging baskets & window boxes

Tuberous verbena (V. rigida), also known as slender vervain. This plant tolerates heat and humidity, making it well-suited for southern gardens. Grow in full sun in well-drained soil or container. It is a tender perennial that can be hardy to USDA Zones 7-10—but grown as an annual elsewhere

Propagating Verbena

The most reliable way to propagate hybrid garden verbenas is by clipping off stem segments and rooting them. This method works for many herbaceous plants.

With verbenas, you can preserve the plants by taking stem cuttings in the fall and rooting them indoors. Then pot them up so they’re ready to transplant outdoors in springtime.

1. Cut 4- to 6-inch cuts from the ends of healthy stems using clean, sharp pruners. The bottom third of the cutting should be cleared of leaves before being dipped into the rooting hormone.

2. Small pots should be filled with a commercial peat-free potting mix that has been evenly combined with sand or perlite to provide a permeable rooting media. Bury the exposed portion of the stem while planting the cutting in the potting soil. Water the containers gently to thoroughly saturate the potting mix.

3. Set the pot somewhere bright but out of direct sunlight and cover it with a plastic cover (or put it in a loose plastic bag). periodically check the cutting, and if required, add moisture to the potting mix.

4. Start testing the cutting by gently pulling on the stem after a few weeks have passed. Once you start to experience resistance, you’ll know roots have become established. The plant can be transplanted into the garden or into bigger pots filled with potting soil once fresh growth becomes apparent. 

How to Grow Verbena from Seed

If you want to propagate verbenas from seeds, you should purchase commercial seeds, which are bred under carefully controlled greenhouse conditions. These seeds should be started indoors 12 to 14 weeks before your average last frost date to ensure flowers by early summer.

Wrap the seeds in a moist paper towel and place them in a plastic bag. Refrigerate them for seven days, then plant them in cell trays filled with a commercial seed-starter mix. Press the seed into the soil and barely cover it with the additional seed-starter mix. Mist the starter mix to moisten it, then cover the tray and place it in a dark location out of direct sunlight.

When the seeds have germinated (21 to 30 days), remove the cover and expose them to direct light. The seedlings can be transplanted into their own pots or directly into the garden when they have several sets of true leaves, but make sure to harden them off first.

See Also: Plumeria Plant, Grow And Care

Potting and Repotting Verbena

Verbena is commonly found in hanging baskets with a mix of flowers, where they make good “spillers” trailing over the sides of the container. For container planting, use any general-purpose potting mix, in any well-draining container (any material will do) You can also pot up verbena growing in the ground for overwintering indoors.

Although they are usually grown as annuals, potted verbenas can be kept as perennials if you live in a warm climate. If you do so, cut back the foliage by one-third before moving them, and give them an indoor location with as much sunlight as possible. However, be aware that verbenas have a short lifespan as perennials; they do not make good permanent houseplants.


Verbena in pots may be overwintered. Unless you pot it by digging out the entire plant, unpotted verbena will probably die off by the first harsh frost (when temperatures drop well below freezing). What you should do is:

1. Reduce the plant’s size by more than 50%. Dig it up carefully, then cut the roots in half.

2. Locate a container and fill it with potting soil so that there are a few inches around the root ball. At the same depth that the verbena was growing in the earth, plant it.

3. Find the sunniest interior location you can and place the newly potted plant there. For the first few weeks indoors, sprinkle with water, then check often and water as necessary. Additionally, look for bugs because typical houseplant pests like aphids can affect indoor plants.

4. Trim back the plant as the final spring frost approaches to encourage fresh growth. You may take the container outside or transplant the verbena in the garden once the final spring frost has passed and nighttime lows are consistently above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

These plants are prone to powdery mildew, and common insect pests that may be controlled with insecticidal soaps may also visit them. 6 However, these issues seldom result in the death of the plants.

If you make it a point to water at ground level rather than by spraying from above, powdery mildew can be reduced. Additionally, giving the plants plenty of room to breathe will assist to lower these fungal diseases.

How to Get Verbena to Bloom

If their fundamental cultural requirements—a lot of suns, well-draining soil with moderate moisture, and light frequent feeding—are satisfied, hybrid verbenas nearly always blossom lavishly. Giving a plant a good “haircut” by severely trimming it and adding a generous dose of balanced fertilizer is frequently the answer when it doesn’t blossom.


Verbena is a gorgeous flower that only needs occasional care, making it a great addition to the gardener’s beds or containers who appreciates caring for their plants regardless of how finicky they are. You could have success planting your verbena directly in your butterfly garden or combining it with marigolds, canna lilies, heliotropes, and other sun-loving annuals. You won’t be let down by introducing this flower to your garden as long as you have the desire to care for it when it calls for your attention.


What is the lifespan of verbena plants?

Verbenas are rather short-lived plants when planted as perennials; they seldom live for more than two or three years. However, if you’re cultivating a species type instead of a hybrid, the plants will likely readily self-seed and may even colonize in an eternal way.

How does one utilize this plant for landscaping?

Hybrid annual verbenas are reliable bloomers that are frequently grown in pots, used as garden bedding plants, planted in large groups, or utilized as front-edging plants, where their spreading habits are put to good use. Many hybrids have a trailing habit that looks good flowing down small retaining walls, in hanging baskets, and in rock gardens. In sunny places, several types may make ideal ground covers since they are sprawling, spreading plants.

My verbena is dying; why?

Your purple verbena is prone to a powdery mildew infection that forms a white fungal powder on the surfaces of the leaves, stems, and flowers and that causes premature leaf loss if it is under stress from a lack of sunshine or water or is otherwise compromised.

How frequently should verbena be watered?

For the first one to two weeks following planting, plan on watering Verbena every day. Once Verbena plants have adapted, once-weekly watering is usually sufficient. Observe the weather because it might affect how frequently the plant has to be watered. The plant may require watering twice weekly or more during a heat wave or drought.