It seems as though the gurus of landscape color have been awakened this year to the old-fashioned verbena. While the term old-fashioned might justify with the flower we know as verbena, it's a relatively new variety called EnduraScape that is causing all the fuss.
The EnduraScape series has been out for about 4 years and now boast 10 colors. They have been winning trials and living up to the claim of both heat and cold tolerance. In other words, give it a good home with soil preparation and there is a great chance you'll be enjoying this verbena for a few years.
The EnduraScape Pink-bicolor was chosen as an All-America Selections Winner in 2017. EnduraScape Hot Pink was the winner at Colorado State University Trials and the EnduraScape Red and EnduraScape White Blush have both been included in the Southern Living Plant Collection.
Even if you don't want it as a perennial you'll love it as a summer annual that doesn't shut down in the heat. You'll bring out the camera as the blooms gracefully tumble over the edge in mixed containers, window boxes or cascade over walls all the while bringing in pollinators. You have to admit that's pretty special.
No longer do we think of the verbena as being a powdery mildew, insect-infested flower in the garden thanks to the EnduraScape series. Proper soil preparation and site selection are essential for your verbena success. Add 3 to 4 inches of organic matter and till it to a depth of 8 to 10 inches. While doing this, spread 2 pounds per 100 square feet of a slow release fertilizer. This will help jumpstart your new transplants. Finish your bed preparation by adding a good layer of mulch after planting.
Provide full sunlight, water and you are well on your way to enjoying one of the prettiest groups of flowers available. But there is one more important aspect to happiness with verbenas. These are vigorous plants that spread exceptionally well blooming for weeks and weeks. If they have reached their allotted space or ever perhaps look a little tired, don't be afraid to cut back and side dress with a little fertilizer. They will reward you with new growth and more blooms than you ever imagined as you head into the fall season.
As mentioned they are unbeatable in mixed containers. Use them as spiller plants and combine with pockets of colorful foliage. I have a couple of large bowls where South Pacific Sipper hibiscus is the thriller plant and combined with the dark blue-violet verbena and Goldilocks creeping Jenny. In containers that you water daily during the summer, it will be important to frequently apply a dilute water-soluble fertilizer.
With 10 colors there is sure to be one to fit your color palette. I'll be honest I am partial to the blue selections and even the dark purple that seem to have a touch of blue. You can create dazzling complementary combinations by partnering with yellow flowers. Recently I had to stop the car to photograph a stunning partnership with the Golden Butterfly argyranthemum or marguerite daisy.
No matter your favorite color you will find that like their cousin the lantana, the EnduraScape verbenas will be feasted on regularly by swallowtail, monarch and fritillary butterflies that make the garden even more beautiful..
(Norman Winter, horticulturist, garden speaker and author of, "Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South" and "Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden." Follow him on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.)