Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Verbena IS a Perennial. It is, it is!!!

Butterfly on Verbena

On January 31, I posted pictures of the many little creatures that had enjoyed the Verbena Bonariensis in my butterfly garden and I made the statement that it was my favorite perennial. Jodi left a comment saying that it was an annual where she lived. I was curious to see if it was indeed a perennial or an annual in my zone 5 garden. After checking several sources I saw that it was only hardy in zones 7-10. Embarrassed and feeling a bit foolish about my mistake, I posted again telling why I had thought it was a perennial.

Nearly in a panic after reading that so many people had trouble getting this to grow in their garden, I went outside in the cold weather and snipped off the seed heads of just about every verbena in the garden. I winter sowed some and sprinkled seeds in every flower bed.

The weather was absolutely perfect here today, in the mid-fifties and I spent a considerable amount of time outside cleaning up in the flower gardens. I started pulling up the verbena, my poor verbena that I had thought was a perennial, but was really only an annual....wait a minute... what's that green stuff at the base of the plant? It is the verbena coming back! It is a perennial here in my zone 5 garden! I'm not crazy after all. I really had been seeing the same plants coming back for the last several years, not new plants that had grown from seed. Just about every verbena that I checked had new growth. I wonder why it is hardy here when it really isn't supposed to be. I mulch for the winter, but not a thick layer. I'm so glad the verbena is hardy in my garden. Even if the thousands of seeds I planted don't grow, I will still have verbena in the butterfly garden again. That is a very good thing!

The snow is just about all gone. Another very good thing!

Look what I found! I do have crocuses coming up after all, not many, but hey, I'm very happy seeing these two.

More spring blossoms on the way!

My first winter sowing sprouts are in container #17, which is Alyssum.

I was shocked to find that the parsley had survived the winter. I saw little sprouts coming up all over the place. I even did a bit of weeding pulling out those little dandelions that were coming up in the flower garden.

I cut the ornamental grasses back, gave Lilly a good brushing and went for a nice long walk with her. Spring, a very good thing.


kate smudges said...

That is a wonderful surprise - I am glad that your Verbena has returned. It's exciting to see all the bits of green coming up. Your snow is nearly all gone.

All is well - I am just taking a wee break from blogging. My son has had a bad flu so it has been a crazy week.

Happy Gardening and thanks for your caring!

Robin's Nesting Place said...

Kate, I hope your son feels better quickly. Thanks so much for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

I love Verbena - in my garden in the UK it is a "short lived perennial" - 2 or 3 years - but it self seeds gently which keeps me happy.
Glad yours has returned this year.

Frances, said...

Robin, that is fantastic news, hooray for the verbena. I was thinking of you and yours when I was transplanting some here that had come up in the middle of the path. But not all of them come back each year, the short lived term probably applies, even here in zone 7. But it does seed all over, maybe not where it is best appreciated and sometimes can survive a move, but not always. Early in the season is the best time to move so many things, before our heat begins in earnest. The forecast for today is 76 degrees! But we will see several more winters, blackberry winter, dogwood winter, I forget the rest but you probably remember those from Alabama.

Frances at Faire Garden

Melanie Chopay said...

Verbena is a perennial here in zone 6b too. I thought it was an annual that reseeded until I did the same thing as you and pulled up an older plant. It does seem to favor well drained areas which makes me wonder if it died out in other areas but stayed alive in these spots.

My only contention with it is that it seeds itself in the front of a border and then grows too tall and leggy for that spot. I have to play "move that plant" every now and then :-)

CanadianGardenJoy said...

Robin .. It is amazing what some plants will do in our gardens .. I just went through a comment where Doug Green was sure that Golden Jubilee Hyssop wouldn't make it around here in my neck of the woods (his as well actually) ..
I was so happy to tell him my GJ Hyssop has come back for three years now and has sprouted seedlings to boot !
We can create micro climates whether on purpose or by sheer luck we can make some plants not in our zone HAPPY !
I'm glad you got such a nice surprise too !

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Isn't it fun to find something that isn't supposed to be growing where it is growing. Fun fun. I might try the Verbena again. It died out here. Maybe it was were it was too wet for its liking. Can't wait to see your crocus blooming.

Priscilla George said...

Congrats on your Verbena growing back. Sometimes thing that aren't supposed to grow or be a perennial are.The verbena just loves your garden so it wants to stay longer.

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

Yes indeed, Spring is a very good thing. And what fun that so many good things were found in your garden today. I never thought you were crazy my dear, as Verbena Bonariensis is hardy in my garden too. Well most of them, I do lose one or two each winter which is compensated more than enough by all the seedlings they leave behind. Have you got any yet? Perhaps it is still too early for them to show, so keep your eyes peeled!

Great that your crocuses are coming up too, it won't be long before they start to bloom!

Anonymous said...

I'm lucky here in East Texas. My parsley has been growing all year. And I live in an area where you can garden nearly year round. Although we did have snow a week ago, by afternoon it was nice. Every time I see a new bud, I feel a little thrill of pleasure, like you, though.

Gail said...

Glad you have Verbena again to enjoy. I have an upstate NY garden friend who has great success...not sure if she plants it each year or if it reseeds.
I am not able to convince Verbena b to return to my garden and I am in zone 6b/ must be that drainage issue...I am going to try again because it is a terrific see through plant.

Frances is right we are going to have a few more freezes our way...that is why I am not cleaning out the beds yet...


Unknown said...

Whoo hooo, indeed, Robin! That's just fantastic. You must have better drainage than I do, as I don't know of anyone in my neck of the woods who gets it to come back from old growth--from seeds, yes. But not me. I have to start it fresh, as it doesn't seem to want to come back from seed for me, let alone overwinter as a plant. Boo hoo. Snif.(feel sorry for me yet?) Seriously though, I'm really, REALLY tickled for you: can't wait to see if this plant flowers sooner than the seedlings do.

Mary said...

Thank you, Robin! Verbena was an annual as long as I can remember - when I lived in MD and DE. I'm in zone 7 and well...the Verbena will stay with me next fall!

Anonymous said...

Lovely butterfly photo.

Kerri said...

Robin, that's fantastic! I'm sharing your excitement:) Isn't it wonderful seeing the signs of spring? I have yet to get outside and do anything in the garden because it's been so wintery here still. Brrr. But we do have plenty of bulbs up. What a promise!
I've learned a lot about Verbena b from this post and the comments. It's on my list of things to try. Now I'll know where to plant it. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

My zone 7 garden loves verbena--but when it gets hot and humid..the verbena gets bugs like you wouldn't believe. I like Homestead the best and I think that's what you have. I noticed that it will root wherever it puts down a shoot. The next year--it may not come up at the crown but may come up off one of the shoots. So I never know where that rascal is hiding during the winter. Your pics were encouraging today. Looks like I see life in lots of places in your gardens!!! I think it's going to go from spring to summer in one day this year--just like last year--errrrrrr!

Robin's Nesting Place said...

Artistsgarden: Isn't verbena wonderful? I'm very anxious to see if any of the verbena seeds germinate and grow.

Frances: If all of the seeds I scattered grow, I'll have thousand of verbena plants. Thanks for the transplant warning, I'll have to get them early if I have any to share with neighbors and the nursing home.

Melanie: I have it in a back raised bed, next to the house, where it usually can spread freely. It does get tall and leggy though.

Gardenjoy4me: I read your comment to Doug about the hyssop. I'm beginning to think that plant behavior can be as unpredictable as animal behavior.

Lisa: Now that you'll have more sun in the back you should try it again. Mine is in a raised bed and very happy.

Vanillalotus: I love it too...well, I love the butterflies and critters it brings.

Yolanda:I didn't see any seedlings yet. Not even in my winter sowing containers. Hopefully soon though.

Brenda: you are so lucky to be able to garden all year. I'd love that.

Gail: You should give the verbena another try. I couldn't help myself with the cleanup, those grasses were looking pretty rough. I didn't remove any of the cover for the perennials though, I just cut down the taller dead stems.

Jodi: It should flower sooner, because I didn't see any growth from seedlings and the established plants had hearty growth already.

Mary: I can't wait to see the pictures you take of the butterflies on your verbena.

Fireflynights: Thank you!

Kerri: Spring is definitely on the way, hang in there!

Anna: I've never seen bugs on my verbena. It stays healthy and blooms from spring until fall. I hope we have a long spring. I hate when we go from winter to summer.

Annie in Austin said...

What a nice thing to find, Robin! Maybe you've just made it so comfortable and well-drained in your garden that the Verbena bonariensis couldn't bear to leave it!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

joey said...

Wow Robin ... a memorable butterfly photo! Though I do not plant verbena in my garden (containers only), our garden club uses it extensivly in our Village Gardens (a square mile of multiple unique gardens), always a trooper ... especially masking asphalt curbs. Be thankful for the gift! Don't you think so much depends on the site?

Anonymous said...

I will have to make sure I check mine closely before ripping them out!

Anna at RavenCroft said...


Funny how some plants are treated as annuals in some areas. Up here, Pinks (dianthys - sp?) are considered annuals too, but I've had them come back (the original plant, not reseeds) for several years.

I love your blog, especially the photo of the robin in the birdbath. Way too cute!

Marie said...

I wonder if the Zone numbers are the other way around where I live. I live by the coast in zone 1, farthest north in Norway and up in the highland it goes up to 7 which is the highest. The verbena is an annual here.

Have a nice weekend :)

Katarina said...

It's so nice to hear about the verbena coming back - and it shows that all you need really, is to trust yourself... The first picture of the butterfly is outstanding!
/Katarina (Roses and stuff)

Connie said...

A few days after reading your post, I was cleaning up my perennial garden. I discovered that my Verbena B. is coming back, too. I am in zone 6b.

I am so glad you posted this, as I didn't expect it to come back and probably would have yanked it without checking!

Kylee Baumle said...

Yay, Robin! I'm planting this for the first time this year, so I'm glad to hear your report!

Our snow is nearly gone here, too and good riddance!

Sorry I've been absent this week, but my internet connection has been poor at best and it's also been a very busy week. I'm hoping to get caught up with my blog reading and commenting!

Kylee Baumle said...

I know I posted before on this one, but wanted to add that I don't have any sprouts in my winter sowing containers yet. I checked a couple of days ago.

My parsley survived the winter, too! First time I've had that, but Mom told me she's had it survive quite a few times over the years. I was still pretty excited to see that though!