Stems are stout, square, grooved and green or reddish with white hairs. Lance-shaped, sharply toothed, green leaves. Numerous, stiff, pencil-like flower spikes branch upwards at stem ends, like the arms of a candelabra. Each blue-violet flower spike blooms from the bottom up. Attracts birds, butterflies.
Larval host to common buckeye butterfly. Special value to native bees.
Fun fact: Genus name is Latin for “sacred plant” because in ancient times the plant was thought to be a cure-all among medicinal plants.
Spreads by thick, slowly-spreading rhizomes and self-seeding. Individual plants can be short-lived but V. hastata maintains a presence in the garden via self-seeding. Prefers to stay moist while tolerating periods of inundation. Cutting back the stems may encourage a branched bushier form. May deadhead to prevent excessive seeding, but you can feed the birds if you don’t!
Wondering which of our two vervains you want? Here’s the difference: Verbena hastata has smaller flowers, stalked leaves that are longer and narrower, and prefers moist habitats. Verbena stricta has larger flowers, stalkless leaves, and a preference for dryer habitats.
Height: 2-6 ft.
Spread: 1-2.5 ft.
Bloom time: July to September
Sun: full sun
Water: medium to wet
Naturalize, rain garden
photo credit: James St. John