Hairy stems and coarsely-toothed, gray-green leaves. Numerous, stiff, pencil-like flower spikes branch upwards at stem ends, like the arms of a candelabra. Each purple/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 rhizomes and self-seeding. Individual plants can be short-lived but maintains a presence in the garden via self-seeding. Drought resistant and non-aggressive (does not compete well in vigorous stands of native grasses). May deadhead to prevent excessive seeding, but birds will eat the seeds if left standing.
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: 2-4 ft.
Spread: 1.5-2 ft.
Bloom time: May to September
Sun: full sun
Water: dry to medium
photo credit: Joshua Mayer