By Anna Graizbord
, last updated February 4, 2011
Verbenas are one of the least worrisome plants in terms of maintenance and care, and they are relatively inexpensive as they are pretty easy to grow from the seed. Verbena flowers can be red, pink, purple, mauve, white, orange, blue, or peach in color and tend to grow in clumps that can reach a height of anywhere from six to ten inches. Because verbena plants tend to grow in clusters, they are great for hanging baskets, window boxes for complimenting rock gardens, butterfly gardens, to fill in border spaces left vacant by spring bulbs, and as a ground cover among summer or fall bulbs.
How To Grow Verbena From Seed
Although verbena is considered an annual plant in the North, it is a perennial in the South. They’re known to stand up well to dryness and heat, thriving well in sunny and hot climates. 8 to 12 weeks before you intend to plant your verbena outside, start growing your seeds indoors to avoid frost danger. Starting at the end of winter or during early spring is advisable.
- Germinate the seeds by spreading them out on a metal or plastic tray, covering with a thin layer of potting soil and watering lightly. Keep in mind that verbena seeds germinate slowly and irregularly.
- Once there are about 3 to 4 leaves per plant, clip out the weakest plants of each section. Pinch out the center shoot in each plant for bushier growth.
- Try acclimating your flowers to the weather by moving them outdoors for a few hours each day before planting them in the flowerbed.
- Once you feel confident about the readiness of your plants and that the time is right weather-wise, plant your verbena in a flowerbed that is well drained and has full sun exposure. Though verbena can grow in partial shade, they need at least 8 to 10 hours of sunlight. Space plants at least 10 to 12 inches apart.
- Dig a 6-inch deep hole in your flowerbed, and spread 2 to 4 inches of compost over the soil and mix well.
- Plant seeds 2 feet apart. Verbena plants will spread but also need air circulation to prevent mildew. Dig holes for each plant wide and deep enough for roots to fit comfortably. The top of the roots should be level with the top of the hole.
- Gently fill the holes with dirt and water just until the ground around them is wet.
- At first, water every two to three days until plants are more established. You can check for moisture by putting your fingers into the soil by the plants. If it’s completely dry or just barely moist, you should water the plants again.
- Generally, water only when the plants are very dry as over-watering can cause harm.
- Once a month, fertilize with liquid, all-purpose plant food once plants are established and reach about 4 inches. The best time for this is generally the spring.
- To encourage verbena to bloom, pick off the blooms that have faded. This practice is called deadheading. You can do this by clipping off the top 1/4 of stems holding the faded bloom. Re-blooming should then occur within 15 to 20 days.
- Soggy conditions and mildew can kill verbena, so always make sure there is proper drainage.
- You can save your verbena plants from the winter by digging them up and bringing them inside before the cold sets in. If you grow your plants in hanging baskets or pots over the winter, once spring arrives, you transfer them to your garden.