21
April
2014

The Verbenas

Verbena mainOften following on the heels of pansies is verbena, a decor plant that thrives in the cooler spring weather. It is not frost-tolerant like pansies and violas, but it doesn’t mind the chill in the spring night air plus it blooms throughout the summer. We are shipping several series and cultivars of verbena this week, so today we will review what each brings to the table.

Verbena is like a character actor you’ve seen in movies and on TV—it never made it to the A-list but it’s versatile and dependable, so you see it used in various roles in many different settings. Plants grow low and bloom with large ball-like clusters over the foliage. Once they settle in they deliver some amazing color. Most retail stores carry some sort of verbena selection and landscapers are starting to use these plants more and more. There is a wide assortment to choose from:

THE TUSCANY SERIES

Verbena Tuscany-Burgundy-Eye

  • Grown in 1203 flats
  • Shipping four colors: ‘Violet Eye’ (white), ‘Blue’ (leaning toward purple), ‘Burgundy Eye’ (white), and ‘Scarlet’
  • Shipping two mixes: Mix (whites, reds, burgundies) and Passion Mix (whites, lavenders and purples)

The Tuscany series brings newer genetics to the category. Engineered to be a reliable landscaper’s plant, it’s sturdy and compact with extra large flower heads. Plants display uniformity across the series—a quality that is important when switching out colors in a landscape design. A short selection at 8 inches, the Tuscany manages to fill out to about 16–20 inches with bushy dark-green foliage. Although there are no flashy shades in the series, Tuscany delivers dependable color at a decent price point for large plantings.

THE ESPADRILLE SERIES 

Verbena Espadrille-Peach-Schnapps

  • Grown in 12 cm Hort Couture pots
  • Shipping four colors: ‘White Russian’, ‘Cranberrytini’, ‘Peach Schnapps’, and ‘Purple Haze’

Espadrille is a larger and showier plant grown out in a retail pot. The series includes one particularly beautiful selection, ‘Peach Schnapps’. While peach is the dominant color, the presentation wanders slightly from a very light creamsicle shade to a deep coral. It’s not a common look for a verbena and the plant displays it effectively. This variety is well worth the purchase.

THE LANAI SERIES 

Verbena Twisted-Pink

  • Grown in 4.5-inch pots
  • Shipping five colors: ‘Blue Denim’, ‘Twister Pink’, ‘Blush’, ‘Bright Pink’, and ‘Royal Purple with Eye’

The Lanai verbena is a result of Syngenta genetics and is bred to be somewhat trailing with a mounded center. Semi-upright is another apt description. In a combo, use Lanai to provide color in the center of a design—its trailing edges will spill off the central mound as well. Lanai cultivars are heat-tolerant and reasonably drought-resistant, so they can be used in both early and late spring garden beds and combinations. ‘Twister Pink’ is the most eye-catching variety—it’s a bicolor with an amazing ring-of-pink/ring-of-white pattern on the blooms. ‘Blue Denim’ is the clearest blue verbena we can find.

SOME STANDOUT SINGLES

Verbena Imagination

‘Imagination’

  • Grown in 1203 flats
  • Violet-blue flowers with deeply cut foliage

‘Imagination’ will tolerate the hottest, driest conditions of all the verbenas, and it is used to supply color in soil remediation projects from sand to clay. Fast-growing foliage provides dense coverage and blooms are long-lasting. For contractors, ‘Imagination’ effectively colors up rocky sites disturbed by construction. It grows about 9 inches high with a spread of around 24 inches, and can handle the blistering sun of the high summer. Foliage is very thin and lacy—it’s sometimes called moss verbena.

‘Eye Candy Purplicious’

  • Grown in 12cm Hort Couture pots
  • Purple with white eye

We are trying out a new cultivar from Hort Couture this year, ‘Eye Candy Purplicious’. Eye Candy is a trailing series that promises more vibrant colors with a much larger white eye in the center. Size and habit should be similar to the other verbenas.

Verbena Pink-Shades

‘Superbena® Pink Shades’

  • Grown in 4.5-inch pots
  • Pink flowers

With the longest trailing habit of the verbenas, ‘Pink Shades’ will drape for a full four feet if given the room to grow. Use it if you have a tall wall to spill over or if you have a basket that hangs high—the color will spill a long way down from the rim. The pink color leans toward magenta.

‘Tapien® Blue Violet’

  • Grown in 4.5-inch pots
  • Deep violet flowers

Given that verbenas are naturally short, ‘Tapien Blue Violet’ is probably the closest verbena to a dwarf that we have. It will only mound up around 4–6 inches—about half the height of the other verbenas. If you prefer more flat and less roll in your verbena garden, this variety is the one to choose.

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