Verbena annual or perennial

Is Verbena Annual Or Perennial: Perennial And Annual Verbena Varieties

Verbena is a plant which is found all over the world and is full of history and lore. Also known as vervain, herb of the cross and holywort, verbena has been a beloved garden plant for centuries because of its long lasting blooms and herbal qualities. Trailing verbenas are a common sight in annual hanging baskets, yet they are also commonplace in native butterfly habitats. This can lead many gardeners to wonder is verbena annual or perennial? It is both actually. Continue reading to learn about annual vs. perennial verbena varieties.

Annual vs. Perennial Verbena

Verbenas are both long blooming annuals and perennials depending on the type. They also can range quite a bit in size and habit. Verbenas can be low growing, trailing groundcovers that only grow to 6-12 inches (15-30 cm.) tall or they can be upright plants reaching 6 feet (1.2 m.) tall.

Generally, the annual verbena varieties grow 6-18 inches (15-45 cm.) while perennial varieties can be low and trailing or tall and upright. Which type you choose will depend upon your site and preferences. Below are some of the common annual and perennial varieties.

Annual Verbena Varieties

Most annual verbena varieties are in the species Glandularia x hybrida. Some of the most popular varieties include:

  • Obsession Series
  • Quartz Series
  • Novalis Series
  • Romance Series
  • Lanai Royal Purple
  • Peaches and Cream

Moss verbena (Glandularia pulchella) are perennials hardy in zones 8-10 but because they are short lived, they are usually grown as annuals. Popular moss verbenas include:

  • Taipen Series
  • Aztec Series
  • Babylon Series
  • Edith
  • Imagination
  • Sissinghurst

Perennial Verbena Varieties

Rough verbena (Verbena rigida) – aka stiff verbena, tuberous vervain, sandpaper verbena – is hardy in zones 7-9.

Purpletop vervain (Verbena bonariensis) is hardy in zones 7-11.

Trailing verbena (Glandularia canadensis) is hardy in zones 5-9. Popular varieties include:

  • Homestead Purple
  • Summer Blaze
  • Abbeville
  • Silver Anne
  • Greystone Daphne
  • Texas Rose
  • Taylortown Red

Blue vervain (Verbena hastata) is hardy in zones 3-8 and native to the U.S.

How Long Does Verbena Last in the Garden?

All verbena needs to grow in full sun to light shade in well-draining soil. Perennial verbenas are heat tolerant and drought tolerant once established. They do well in xeriscape gardens.

Verbena is generally referred to as long blooming. So how long does verbena last? Most, annual and perennial varieties will bloom from spring until frost with regular deadheading. As, perennials, verbena can be a short lived plant, this is why many perennial verbena varieties are grown as annuals.

Most of the very showy flowering verbena plants are hardy only in warmer climates, so many northern gardeners can only grow these as annuals.


This large group includes some of the garden’s most colorful, useful, and easy-to-grow plants. Most bear clusters of small, five- petaled, tubular blossoms from late spring until frost. Low verbenas make good ground covers and edging plants; they’re also great in hanging baskets and containers or tumbling over rock walls. Use taller types in borders. Most thrive in heat and tolerate drought. Provide good air circulation and well-drained soil. Not favored by deer.

dakota verbena

verbena bipinnatifida

  • Perennial.
  • Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8.
  • Native from Great Plains to Mexico.
  • Grows 815 inches high, 112 feet wide or wider, with blue flowers and finely divided leaves.
  • Spreads by self-sowing in most areas.

verbena bonariensis

  • Perennial in Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-11; annual in Upper South (USDA 6).
  • Native to South America but naturalized in the southeastern U.S. Airy, branching stems to 36 feet carry purple flowers.
  • Leaves are mostly in a basal clump to 112 feet high and 1123 feet wide.
  • This plant has a see-through quality that makes it suited for foreground or back of border.
  • Self-sows freely.
  • Lollipop is a smaller, more compact plant 24 inches wide.

rose verbena

verbena canadensis

  • Perennial in Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9, but usually treated as annual.
  • Native from Virginia to Florida, west to Colorado and Mexico.
  • To 112 feet high, 1123 feet wide, with rosy purple flowers.
  • There is a compact (6 inches-high) form suitable for rock gardens; white- and pink-flowering forms are also offered.
  • Greystone Daphne, to 68 inches tall and up to 112 feet wide, has dark green leaves and lavender-pink flowers; it thrives in Southern gardens.
  • When growing the species or its selections as perennials, provide good winter drainage; in the Upper South, cover with light winter mulch.

verbena gooddingii

  • Short-lived perennial.
  • Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11.
  • Native to the Southwest.
  • Grows to 112 feet high, spreading to about 3 feet wide.
  • Oval, deeply cut leaves.
  • Pinkish lavender flowers at ends of short spikes.
  • Will bloom first summer from seed sown in spring.
  • Can reseed where moisture is adequate.
  • Tolerates dry heat.

garden verbena

verbena x hybrida

  • Short-lived perennial grown as annual.
  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 6-11.
  • Much-branched plant to 612 inches high, spreading 1123 feet wide.
  • Oblong, 2- to 4 inches., bright green or gray-green leaves with toothed margins.
  • Flowers come in flat, compact clusters to 3 inches wide; colors include white, pink, bright red, purple, blue, and combinations.
  • Superior strains include Romance (to 6 inches tall), Novalis (to 8 inches.), and Showtime (to 10 inches.).
  • All are colorful but prone to insect damage, particularly by thrips.

Verbena Hybrids

  • Perennials.
  • Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-11.
  • Grow as annuals where not hardy.
  • Group of mostly low-growing, wide-spreading plants that love hot, dry weather and bloom all summer.

Batesville Rose

  • To 12 feet high, 3 feet wide.
  • Vivid magenta flowers.
  • Found in a road ditch in Batesville, Texas.

Blue Princess

  • To 1 feet high, 23 feet wide.
  • Fragrant lavender-blue blossoms; mildew-resistant leaves.

Homestead Purple

  • To 1 feet high, 4 feet wide.
  • Rich, deep purple blooms; mildew-resistant foliage.
  • Thrives in the South.
  • Discovered on old Georgia homestead.

Hot Lips

  • To 610 inches high, 23 feet wide.
  • Bright red-violet flower heads, with each tiny blossom shading to a darker color toward the center.


  • To 610 inches high, 23 feet wide.
  • Light lavender-blue flowers.

Pinwheel Princess

  • To 12 feet high, 23 feet wide.
  • Sport of ‘Blue Princess’.
  • Lightly scented blossoms are striped in lavender and white; they look like little pinwheels.


  • To 8 inches high, 34 feet wide.
  • Coral-pink flowers.

Texas Appleblossom

  • To 6 inches high, 23 feet wide.
  • Flowers open cotton candy pink, then gradually fade to white.

Tie Dye

  • To 6 inches high, 23 feet wide.
  • Resembles ‘Pinwheel Princess’, but stripes are lavender, pink, and white.

verbena peruviana

  • Perennial in Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11, but usually treated as an annual everywhere.
  • Native to South America.
  • Spreads rapidly, forming a flat mat to 2 feet wide.
  • Small, closely set leaves; flat-topped clusters of scarlet-and-white flowers on stems to 3 inches tall cover the foliage.
  • Verbena p.
  • Alba has pure white flowers.
  • Hybrids feature blossoms in white, pink, or red; they spread more slowly than the species and have slightly larger leaves and stouter stems.

verbena rigida

  • Perennial in Zones MS, LS, CS; USDA 7-9, or grow as annual anywhere.
  • Native to South America but naturalized in Southeast.
  • To 12 feet high, spreading to 34 feet wide.
  • Rough, strongly toothed, dark green leaves to 24 inches long.
  • Lilac to purple-blue flowers in cylindrical clusters on tall, stiff stems.
  • Blooms in four months from seed.
  • Polaris, a dense grower to 2 feet high, 1 feet wide, has pale porcelain-blue flowers.

verbena Superbena hybrids

verbena Tapien hybrids

  • Perennials in Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11, annuals anywhere.
  • Prostrate plants to 4 inches high, 1112 feet wide, with finely cut, dark green leaves.
  • Wide range of colors, including pink, lavender, pale blue, deep purple, red.
  • Resistant to mildew.
  • Regular water.

verbena Temari hybrids

verbena tenera ‘Sissinghurst’ (Glandularia tenera ‘Sissinghurst’)

  • Perennial in Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-11, annual anywhere.
  • Low grower to about 3 inches high and 34 feet wide, with deeply cut, dark green foliage and a profuse show of fragrant, coral-pink flowers.
  • Loves heat.

moss verbena

verbena tenuisecta

Verbena canadensis

  • Whole Plant Traits: Plant Type: Ground Cover Native Plant Perennial Leaf Characteristics: Deciduous Habit/Form: Spreading
  • Cultural Conditions: Light: Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day) Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours) Soil Texture: Clay Loam (Silt) Sand Shallow Rocky Soil Drainage: Good Drainage Available Space To Plant: 12 inches-3 feet NC Region: Coastal Mountains Piedmont Usda Plant Hardiness Zone: 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b
  • Fruit: Fruit Description: 4 nutlets per flower appear after bloom time.
  • Flowers: Flower Color: Pink Purple/Lavender Red/Burgundy Flower Value To Gardener: Showy Flower Bloom Time: Summer Flower Shape: Star Flower Petals: 4-5 petals/rays Flower Size: < 1 inch Flower Description: A dome-shaped cluster of 10-25 flowers up to 2½” across is produced at the apex of each spike. Each flower is about ¾” long and ½” across.

  • Leaves: Leaf Characteristics: Deciduous Leaf Color: Green Leaf Type: Simple Leaf Arrangement: Opposite Leaf Shape: Lanceolate Obovate Leaf Margin: Dentate Hairs Present: Yes Leaf Length: 3-6 inches Leaf Width: 1-3 inches Leaf Description: The leaves are 2–4″ long and ¾–3″ across, becoming more narrow and slightly shorter as they ascend the stems. The leaves are often deeply to moderately divided into 3 primary lobes which are then divided into smaller secondary lobes with coarse teeth.
  • Stem: Stem Color: Green Purple/Lavender Stem Is Aromatic: No Stem Surface: Hairy (pubescent) Stem Description: Stems creep along the surface, turned upward at ends; lateral branches ascending.
  • Landscape: Landscape Location: Container Naturalized Area Slope/Bank Landscape Theme: Cottage Garden Pollinator Garden Rock Garden Design Feature: Border Mass Planting Attracts: Butterflies Pollinators Resistance To Challenges: Deer Drought Salt

Homestead Purple Verbena

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Other Species Names: Vervain

Plant Height: 12 in.

Spread: 18 in.

Evergreen: No

Plant Form: trailing

Summer Foliage Color: green

Minimum Sunlight: full sun

Maximum Sunlight: full sun

Homestead Purple Verbena features showy clusters of purple star-shaped flowers at the ends of the stems from late spring to mid fall. The flowers are excellent for cutting. Its tiny tomentose narrow leaves remain green in color throughout the season. The fruit is not ornamentally significant.

Landscape Attributes

Homestead Purple Verbena is an herbaceous perennial with a trailing habit of growth, eventually spilling over the edges of hanging baskets and containers. It brings an extremely fine and delicate texture to the garden composition and should be used to full effect. This plant will require occasional maintenance and upkeep. Trim off the flower heads after they fade and die to encourage more blooms late into the season. Deer don’t particularly care for this plant and will usually leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. It has no significant negative characteristics. Homestead Purple Verbena is recommended for the following landscape applications; Mass Planting Border Edging General Garden Use Container Planting Hanging Baskets

Planting & Growing

Homestead Purple Verbena will grow to be about 12 inches tall at maturity, with a spread of 18 inches. When grown in masses or used as a bedding plant, individual plants should be spaced approximately 14 inches apart. Its foliage tends to remain dense right to the ground, not requiring facer plants in front. It grows at a fast rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 3 years. This plant should only be grown in full sunlight. It does best in average to evenly moist conditions, but will not tolerate standing water. It is not particular as to soil type or pH, and is able to handle environmental salt. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments. This particular variety is an interspecific hybrid. It can be propagated by cuttings; however, as a cultivated variety, be aware that it may be subject to certain restrictions or prohibitions on propagation. Homestead Purple Verbena is a fine choice for the garden, but it is also a good selection for planting in outdoor containers and hanging baskets. Because of its trailing habit of growth, it is ideally suited for use as a ‘spiller’ in the ‘spiller-thriller-filler’ container combination; plant it near the edges where it can spill gracefully over the pot. Note that when growing plants in outdoor containers and baskets, they may require more frequent waterings than they would in the yard or garden.


Verbenas are long blooming annual or perennial flowers that possess the virtues of heat tolerance and an extremely long bloom season. Many perennial verbenas are relatively short lived, but their vigor and heavy flowering make up for this defect. They do well grown as annual flowering plants also, since they bloom quickly during the first season after planting.

‘Homestead Purple’ Verbena (Glandularia canadensis), known for its long bloom season.
Karen Russ, ©2007 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Bedding type annual verbenas raised from seed do not do well in hot, humid climates, while most of the perennial or vegetatively propagated types are well adapted to growing in South Carolina heat and humidity.


Verbenas vary considerably in size. The ground skimming moss verbena and trailing verbena reach 1 foot or less in height and spread from 2 to 5 feet wide. Verbena rigida usually grows 1 to 1½ feet tall, while purpletop vervain and the native blue verbena can reach 4 to 5 feet tall, but only a foot or two in width.

Growth Rate

Verbenas generally grow moderately to quickly, and unlike many perennials, bloom well the first season after planting. Some varieties, such as ‘Homestead Purple’, are extremely vigorous. If plants outgrow their assigned space, they tolerate trimming back well.

Ornamental Features

Verbenas are mainly grown for their remarkable length of bloom with most blooming from spring until close to frost if trimmed back once or twice in mid summer. Flower color ranges from white through pink, red, lavender, blue and purple.

Landscape Use

Verbenas require a location that receives full sun throughout the day. They must have well-drained soil. They will not tolerate overcrowding with poor air circulation, shade or soil that stays overly moist. Most problems of verbenas occur in improper growing conditions.

Verbenas are best planted in the spring or summer in the upstate and piedmont regions of South Carolina. They may also be planted in the fall in the Coastal region. Pinch the tips of the branches at planting time to encourage dense branching and a fuller plant.

Newly planted verbenas will need to be kept moist for the first few weeks until the roots have spread into the surrounding soil.

While established verbenas are drought tolerant, performance, bloom, and growth rate will be reduced if they are too dry for a long period. During their blooming period, give them a thorough watering once a week if they do not receive an inch of rain that week. Avoid overhead watering.

If bloom slows during the summer, trim the whole plant back by about one fourth of its height and spread, water thoroughly and fertilize lightly. The plant will return to bloom within 2 to 3 weeks.

A light application of a complete fertilizer such as 16-4-8 in mid- to late spring and again after trimming back will revitalize plants, but additional fertilization is not generally required. Plants growing in very sandy, poor soil may need more frequent fertilization.

In the fall you can trim back verbenas lightly to give a neater appearance to the garden, but do not cut severely until spring as new growth begins to appear. Overly severe fall pruning can reduce cold hardiness and plants may not survive a cold winter. Most verbenas are short-lived, so you should plan on replacing them after two or three years. However, some species can re-seed and naturalize in the garden.

Verbenas, especially the trailing and moss types, grow very well in containers. Fertilize container grown plants either with a controlled-release fertilizer, or with a liquid fertilizer once a month. Container grown plants should be watered more frequently, and not allowed to dry out.

All verbena will attract numerous butterfly species, bumblebees, and hummingbirds.


Verbenas can suffer from a variety of problems, but most occur when they are grown in low light, poorly drained soil, or when the soil stays excessively moist from excessive watering. Poor air circulation from over crowded conditions can also lead to disease problems.

Powdery mildew appears as a white powder fungus on the surfaces of leaves. It most often infects verbena that does not receive enough sunlight, or is under stress from severe drought or other causes.

Botrytis blight often occurs under overly moist conditions. Flowers turn brown and sometimes a gray, fuzzy fungus is visible.

Root rot caused by Pythium or Rhizoctonia may occur in overly moist soil.

Verbenas are relatively pest free. Aphids, whitefly, thrips, leaf miners and mites are the most common pests. Mites are most common in plants that are severely drought stressed.

Snails and slugs are an occasional problem. They are worse during wet spells or if plants are heavily mulched.

Cultivars & Species

Purpletop Vervain (Verbena bonariensis): This 4 to 5 foot tall species is sometimes called “verbena on a stick.” Clusters of tiny lavender flowers appear above the tall, thin square stems in late spring and continue to bloom throughout the summer into fall. It is an excellent blender plant to fill in gaps in the back of the flower border, and will not crowd other plants because of its airy habit. Purpletop vervain is a short-lived perennial, but readily self-sows. It is drought tolerant. Cut plants back to encourage new blooms.

Tall growing Purpletop vervain (Verbena bonariensis).
Karen Russ, ©2007 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Trailing Verbena (Glandularia canadensis; formerly Verbena canadensis): Trailing verbena is a native perennial throughout South Carolina. The plants have a low spreading form and will flower profusely all summer. Creeping stems often root into the soil or mulch. Plants are tolerant of heat and drought, although best growth will occur with plenty of water and fertilizer. Like most verbenas, they need excellent soil drainage. There are numerous cultivars available. Many are trailing verbenas are hybrids of G. canadensis with other species.

  • ‘Homestead Purple’ is one of the most popular trailing verbenas. It is a vigorous plant with large dark purple flower clusters. ‘Homestead Purple’ has excellent heat tolerance, deep green foliage and is a profuse bloomer from early spring until fall frost. Plants grow up to 3 feet wide and 1 foot tall. Discovered growing on an old Georgia homestead.
  • ‘Summer Blaze’ has cherry red flower clusters from late spring through frost.
  • ‘Abbeville’ is a vigorous variety with light lavender flowers, originally discovered growing near Abbeville, SC.
  • ‘Appleblossom’ is a vigorous, long-flowering verbena with large flowers of cotton candy-pink with a contrasting white eye.
  • ‘Greystone Daphne’ is one of the hardiest varieties of verbena, with fragrant pinkish lavender flowers. Begins flowering in very early spring, and continues until frost.
  • ‘Silver Anne’ has warm pink flowers on vigorous plants. Sometimes incorrectly sold as ‘Homestead Pink.’
  • ‘Taylortown Red’ is a vigorous, heavy blooming red flowered cultivar.
  • ‘Snowflurry’ is more upright than other trailing verbenas. It is a very strong plant, covered with white flowers.

Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata): This tall native species resembles V. bonariensis, but is much more tolerant of cold and moist soil, and the flowers are more blue-violet in color. Stems are branched with candelabra-like inflorescences. It is commonly seen growing wild along roadsides throughout South Carolina. Under garden conditions it appears neater than in the wild. Plants can vary from 2 to 5 feet tall or more, but can be trimmed back mid-summer if a shorter plant is desired. Some varieties have been selected for larger flowers and deeper blue flower color.

Rigid Verbena (Verbena rigida): This South American verbena forms spreading patches of brilliant purple. It is widely naturalized along roadsides throughout South Carolina. It spreads by long white rhizomes (underground stems) which spread out in all directions and form dense colonies. Because of this growth habit, it forms a very effective groundcover. Rigid Verbena is hardy and drought resistant.

  • ‘Polaris’ is a silvery lavender flowered variety.
  • ‘Santos’ grows to 12 to 18 inches tall with pinkish-purple blooms.

Moss Verbena (Glandularia pulchella; formerly Verbena tenuisecta): Native to South America, but naturalized throughout the southern United States, moss verbena is so well adapted as to be commonly believed to be native. It is generally hardy in the lower parts of South Carolina, and often survives mild winters in the Upstate. Moss verbena has finely cut leaves and a very low growing habit, explaining its common name. Many of the cultivars are hybrids with other species.

  • Tapien Series includes a range of colors, including lavender, salmon, soft pink, pink, blue-violet, powder blue, and pure white. All have fine, lacy foliage and small flowers that cover the plant from early summer until the first frost. They are usually hardy in the lower parts of South Carolina, but are usually treated as annuals and replanted every spring. The Tapien series is resistant to powdery mildew.
  • ‘Edith’ has fragrant lavender-pink flowers that cover a compact, long flowering plant.
  • ‘Imagination’ is a well known purple variety that is very similar to the wild species.
  • ‘Sissinghurst’ is a prolific bloomer with coral pink flowers from early spring until frost. The narrow cutleaf foliage spreads rapidly to make a 3-4′ mound in one season.

Annual Verbena (Glandularia x hybrida; formerly Verbena x hybrida): Annual verbena is a relatively common garden bedding plant. Most varieties will decline once summer heat increases. Perennial type verbenas will perform better in South Carolina, and will bloom quickly the first season of planting.

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