Both perennial and annual verbena do great in Oklahoma City. They provide an array of beautiful colors during spring and summer. With just a little extra care now, they will provide that same great color until it gets cold again.
Here are the late Loretta Aaron’s thoughts on the verbena and her tips for how to keep them looking great through our summer heat until next fall:
To fill bare areas, consider the verbena. This is a colorful, low-growing plant for borders or beds, and it can be found in a wide range of colors. I set out just one plant in the early spring to see how it would perform. It has covered an area 30 inches square and is blooming heavily. Keep this one in mind for next spring — it is a great plant for summer bloom! A great variety is the “Homestead” with larger foliage and bloom than other verbena plants.
Verbena plantings have put on a colorful display since spring. Should your verbena appear a bit tired, and bloom has slowed down, and runners are long and “leggy,” just take your grass shears and snip away the faded blooms. At 12-inch intervals, cut back at least halfway. Do not reduce the top growth all at one time. Get the rest two weeks later. This will stimulate new growth and new bloom. Then give them an application of a liquid plant fertilize and watch them come back into fresh heavy bloom! The verbena should bloom until frost.
Verbena are full-sun plants and prefer to be watered by placing a hose on the soil and allowing the water to slowly trickle. Keep foliage as dry as possible as these plants are susceptible to mildew. If you find the gray film of mildew present, use a fungicide for control. The only other problem is red spider mite, which shows up as mottled gray foliage with a web on the underside. Talk to your local nurseryman about how to control red spider mite if it shows up in your garden.
Perennial verbena are easy to carry over from year to year. Just allow the top growth to remain until April 1 next spring. Then remove the old top growth and in just a few weeks, the planting will be in full bloom again. I have had the same plantings come back for the past 20 years, and in my garden it performs as a perennial.
For 21 years, Loretta Aaron, an Oklahoma City gardening expert, was a beloved and well-known gardening columnist for The Oklahoman. Loretta died in 2009. With the permission of Loretta’s family, we reprint some of Loretta’s words of gardening wisdom.
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