This half-hardy perennial/annual is a mouthful but Verbena bonariensis is a plant for nearly everyone. A South American verbena, it is also a strong butterfly magnet and easy to see because it grows four feet tall. There is also a dwarf cultivar called ‘Lollipop’ that only grows two feet tall. The stems are very narrow and so are the leaves but at the top of the stem is a cluster of purple blooms that look as though they were dried. In fact, you could easily cut armfuls and use them in arrangements.
Although this verbena is technically hardy only to zone 7, it seeds prolifically and the seedlings survive our winters quite well. Each summer I find myself editing out some of the seedlings that have appeared in areas of the garden where I don’t want them. Happily, they are very easy to pull. Even though they are tall, they never need staking.
Verbena bonariensis is incredibly adaptable. I have grown it in full sun and part shade, and in very dry sites to moist ones. You will not see the seedlings until late spring but once they appear, they spring up quickly. I have them in the back of my borders, in the middle, and even in front because I regard them as see-through plants. Once they start blooming in June, they do not stop until frost. This verbena looks great sprinkled through the garden but is fantastic when massed.
Soft purple is a color that combines well with every other color. Verbena bonariensis looks great as a mass next to the red switch grass, Panicum virgatum ‘Rotstrahlbusch’ but is equally at home sprinkled in front of Pennisetum ‘Hameln’ or Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight.
In August 2012 in Belgium, I saw this verbena used as a veil through which one viewed a brightly colored perennial garden.
Do you have this beauty? If not, why not?