Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Verbena Bonariensis, garden rock star

Verbena Bonariensis has been the darling of garden media for the last while.  It seems like I can't open a gardening magazine without seeing it.  It is described as a butterfly magnet, a wonderful filler plant, a summer blooming machine that somehow seems to take up no soil space at all in the garden!

With all this hype, I just had to get a couple when I saw them at the nursery the other day.  Purple is one of the Red House's favorite plant colors, so the plant pretty much called to me from across the garden center.  The Red House is also all about wildlife, and you know a plant is a magnet for wildlife when you have to wait for your moment to snatch it when there aren't any bees attached! 

A bumblebee moth enjoying the verbena in my garden.
Verbena bonariensis likes full sun and is supposed to be drought tolerant, though it thrives with regular watering.  I've heard it called lavender verbena, purpletop verbain, tall verbena, verbena-on-a-stick and a host of other nicknames (much easier than saying 'bonariensis')!  This verbena is hardy to zone 7; elsewhere, it is grown as an annual.  Native to Brazil and Argentina, it is known to reseed well - sometimes too well.  It can be rather invasive in certain areas such as parts of California, Texas, and Florida.  The Red House garden is situated in the land of hard red clay, so I truly doubt that it will become invasive here, but it's something to watch out for next year.  A few volunteer seedlings would be welcome though! 

The verbena were actually so pretty when sitting in their pots outside our breakfast nook window, that I wanted to put some in containers there!  But I had a big bare spot waiting in the garden, so there they went.

Not five minutes after I planted the verbena, a hummingbird came to check them out.  Since that is only the third hummingbird I've seen since the house was built in 2009, I am considering the plant a smashing success in the wildlife magnet category!  Hopefully he will visit again and I will be able to get his picture..

Soon after the hummingbird came the bumblebee moth, which did hang around for the camera.

The tubular flowers of the verbena are held in clusters at the ends of mostly leafless stems.  Because of this airy, see-through nature, it mingles well with other plants, a trait which has lauded it much praise from the garden media.  This verbena really does seem to live up to most of the hype!

Happy gardening!

Linking up with Bloomin' Tuesday today.


  1. So beautiful -- not only do our flying friends love them, but so do I!

  2. I love this plant too, it really attracts the wildlife to the garden. :)

  3. Wish I had enough sun to grow verbena. They are lovely. Nice to see another blogger from the Triangle area :) Welcome to Blotanical!

  4. Dear Indie, I love verbena. It is an annual in my zone 5 garden, so I purchase some every year for planters. Love your photos. P x

  5. I love this verbena, and it comes back reliably for me. All the good things said about it are true.

  6. Welcome to Bloomin' Tuesday! Sounds like I have to put this plant on my NEED list! Jean

  7. I'm glad to hear that everyone else is having good experiences as well with this verbena and that it comes back reliably! Mr. Red House seems to think that it looks rather weedy, but I love it!

  8. Beautiful plant, Indie! I tried growing it up here in zone 5A but it died over the winter and must not have set seed. It was such an odd plant, I didn't quite know what to do with it anyway!

    We have moths like your bumblebee moths only we call them hummingbird moths. The wings on ours aren't as transparent and they have green on their bodies. I have a picture of one on my blog. I can't seem to paste the link (not good at this technology stuff) but it's in the July Tenacious Tip post entitled Feeling Overwhelmed.

    I hope you're out of the path of the hurricane. Please be safe, if not!

  9. Sharie, I love your pic of the hummingbird moth! It must be a cousin of the bumblebee moth.

    I'm up in NJ for the week. I don't know if that will be better or worse, hurricane-wise! It looks like you'll get some effect too, Sharie. I hope everybody stays safe!

  10. We should be OK, just drowned with rain. I have friends down on the island, though, that I'm a little worried about. They're the stubborn type, won't leave when they should. Ah, well - good thoughts to anybody in Irene's path!


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