By Julie Christensen
For a low-maintenance, fast-growing perennial, try speedwell, also known as veronica. This long-lived perennial has much to recommend it. It is hardy in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 3 through 11, which encompasses most of the U.S. It grows in full sun, but tolerates partial shade. It grows in most soil types, so long as the soil is well-drained. It prefers moderate moisture, but tolerates dry soils. Best of all, speedwell blooms from spring to autumn. How many perennials can you say that about? Let’s learn more about how to grow speedwell.
Speedwell is a ditch flower, growing along roadsides and in fields throughout Europe and much of the United States. Its name means, “speed you well.” In Ireland, sprigs of speedwell were pinned to a traveler’s coat to ensure a safe and speedy journey.
Speedwell most commonly grows as an upright, spreading plant with small clusters of petals formed on tall spikes. These plants grow 1 to 3 feet tall and come in purple, blue, pink or white. Another type of speedwell, prostrate speedwell, is a low-lying ground cover, ideal for rock gardens or scrambling over a wall.
- Speedwell Growing Tips
- Pests and Diseases
- Veronica Spicata Care
- How to Propagate Veronica Spicata
- Pests or Disease Problems Of Spiked Speedwell
- Suggested Uses For Speedwell Spicata
- Common Name
- Flowering Season
- Speedwell Creeping Blue Veronica Repens Seeds
- Veronica spicata ‘Glory’ (Spiked speedwell ‘Glory’)
- Create your free Shoot garden
- How to care
- Get access to monthly care advice
- Where to grow
- Defra’s Risk register #1
- June 2003 Veronica spicata ‘Royal Candles’ By Paul Pilon
Speedwell Growing Tips
Plant speedwell from nursery transplants in spring, after the last frost. Amend the soil with compost or peat before planting. Speedwell tolerates both acidic and alkaline soils, but doesn’t do well in wet areas. Compost improves drainage. Plant speedwell in full sun for best blooms and set the plants 18 inches apart.
Spread 2 inches of wood chip mulch over the soil to conserve moisture. Water speedwell in the summer during dry weather; otherwise, it rarely needs additional watering. Fertilize speedwell in the spring with a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer. In fertile soil, speedwell may not need additional fertilizing. Light-green leaves or slow growth indicate a nutrient deficiency.
Deadhead, or remove, spent blossoms throughout the summer to encourage more blooms. Stake taller varieties to prevent breakage in high winds. Dig up and divide speedwell every 3 to 4 years to encourage vigorous growth. To keep the plants looking tidy and reduce the spread of disease, cut the stalks to 2 inches above the ground after the first frost.
If you prefer, sow speedwell seeds in the fall in a cold frame or directly in your garden. Speedwell needs a period of cold weather to germinate. This process, known as stratification, softens the seed coat so that it splits quickly in the spring when moisture and warm temperatures arrive.
Pests and Diseases
Speedwell is, for the most part, free of pest and disease problems. In fact, the most common problem is one of too much attention. In soggy, overwatered soils, speedwell develops edema. Roots can’t receive oxygen and the plant dies. This problem is easily solved by planting speedwell in loose, well-draining soils and avoiding overwatering.
Powdery mildew might infect speedwell in late summer in hot, dry weather. This fungal disease causes a white growth to form on the leaves and stems. The disease is unattractive, but rarely fatal. Plant speedwell so air circulates freely around the plant and remove any diseased portions.
Spider mites occasionally feed on speedwell. You might notice white silk strands or white or yellow spots on the leaves. Severe infestations can turn the leaves brown. Treat spider mites by spraying plants with an insecticidal soap or oil. Apply these products on cool, cloudy days because applications made on hot, sunny days can burn plants. Cover the leaves completely and make several applications, spaced 7 days apart.
Speedwell is such a carefree plant that you’ll have success with almost any variety you try. Speedwell is even known to be deer- and rabbit-resistant. Below are a few tried-and-true varieties.
- ‘Dick’s Wine’ is a prostrate ground cover, growing no taller than 9 inches. Flowers are rose.
- ‘Goodness Grows’ is a compact variety, growing only 8 to 12 inches tall. It produces deep blue flowers.
- ‘Icicle’ is an unusual and elegant variety with white blooms. The plant grows 18 inches tall.
- ‘Red Fox’ grows to 12 inches tall with pink flowers.
- ‘Sunny Border Blue’ reaches 20 inches high and produces deep bluish-purple flowers.
- ‘True Love’ produces spikes of pink blooms and continues flowering long after most varieties have faded.
For more information on growing speedwell, visit the following sites:
Speedwell: A Good Choice for Low Maintenance Perennial Gardens from Ohio State University.
Genus Veronica (Speedwell) from Fine Gardening
When she’s not writing about gardening, food and canning, Julie Christensen enjoys spending time in her gardens, which include perennials, vegetables and fruit trees. She’s written hundreds of gardening articles for the Gardening Channel, Garden Guides and San Francisco Gate, as well as several e-books.
Veronica spicata is a perennial that produces an abundance of blue flowers appearing in long spires.
It is native to the United Kingdom, and it’s the county flower of Montgomeryshire.
Spicata goes by several common names. Many people refer to it as the spike speedwell or simply speedwell.
The main varieties produce blue, red, or white flowers. The blue varieties are among the most popular known as spicata ‘Royal Candles’ or Spiked Royal Candles.
It became a protected species in the United Kingdom in 1975. But, plants are easy to find in nurseries around the world.
The plant belongs to the Plantaginaceae family, which includes close to two thousand species.
Before you start growing veronica speedwell plants in your garden, review the following plant care tips.
Veronica Spicata Care
Size & Growth
Speedwell veronica is a hardy plant, tolerates cold and grows easily in a variety of regions.
Spicata is recommended for USDA hardiness zone 4 – 8, which covers most of North America and the southern half of Canada.
These plants grow quickly producing lance-shaped leaves a green or gray color.
The speedwell plant grows upright can reach up to three feet. However, when grown indoors, it may not quite reach the same height.
Flowering and Fragrance
The flower spikes are the most interesting feature of this plant during its bloom time.
As mentioned, they’re available in a variety of colors.
The blue variety is the most common.
However, the blue speedwell flowers are closer to a purplish color.
It produces flowers reaching about six inches in length. Their bloom time is late spring and into summer. They have no fragrance and look lovely.
Light & Temperature
Place the Veronica plant just about anywhere, except complete shade. They grow well in full sun and light shade.
Avoid planting or placing them in areas with lots of wind. These upright plants become damaged by strong winds.
TIP: If planting in the garden or around the house, consider planting them close to a structure to protect them from the wind.
Watering and Feeding
In the spring and summer, veronica spicata glory needs frequent water.
The soil should remain moist and may require more water as the plant starts to grow.
In the winter, reduce watering. Keep the soil barely moist.
If growing outdoors and experience a wet winter, consider covering with plastic to protect from excess moisture.
Fertilize during the active growing seasons and stop fertilizing during the winter.
Soil & Transplanting
Use a regular well-drained soil.
Plant speedwell during spring to give it plenty of time to acclimate to its new home.
Transplant or repot only when moving it to a different spot or for propagation.
In the late fall, trim veronica plants down and remove any debris. This will help the plant come back strong the following year.
If the foliage is suffering from any diseases, burn or dispose of the foliage instead of composting it. Mildew or fungus may not create the healthiest compost.
How to Propagate Veronica Spicata
You can easily propagate Veronica spicata by divison.
In late fall or early spring, divide mature plants and repot them in their own containers.
When dividing plants, choose the divisions from the outer edges of the plant.
The inner portions are less likely to root, and they become less productive over the years.
Carefully spread the roots out when transplanting the additional new divisions.
Press the soil firmly to ensure that there are no air pockets.
Pests or Disease Problems Of Spiked Speedwell
Veronica spicata are typically easy to care for, but over-watering can lead to mildew and fungus.
Try to resolve the issue with fungicide. If the leaves continue to die, trim them off and burn them.
Snails, slugs, and aphids also pose problems to the health of Veronica.
Try one of the natural control options or apply a snail or slug bait to get rid of snails and slugs. For aphids, spray an insecticide such as neem oil.
Suggested Uses For Speedwell Spicata
People tend to plant Veronicas in tubs for display on their patios. It’s become a common choice for displaying these favorite perennials.
The Veronica flower works great in flower beds and rock gardens. They help add more height, especially when grown around low-growing plants.
This genus in the foxglove (Scrophulariaceae) family contains 250 species of annuals and perennials, which are most diverse in the northern temperate zones, with fewer species in tropical mountains and southern Australia. Most are creeping or spreading plants that sometimes strike roots as they spread. They are excellent plants for use as groundcovers or in rockeries, and their masses of long-blooming flowers can be used to good effect in border plantings. The genus is probably named in honour of St Veronica, perhaps because the floral markings of some species are said to resemble the marks left on Veronicas sacred veil, with which she wiped Christs face as he carried the cross.
Most Veronica species have a creeping or spreading habit. Their leaves tend to be small, oval to lance-shaped, often shallowly toothed, and rarely pinnately lobed. A few species have solitary flowers but more often upright spikes bearing many flowers develop in spring and summer. The flowers are 4-petalled, with dark lines radiating from the base of each petal. The colour range is mainly in the white and pink to rich purple-blue shades, including some striking deep blue flowers.
These plants are mostly hardy and are easily grown. They perform best when planted in a position in full sun or half-sun with moist well-drained soil. Some are great rockery plants, while others are suited to borders. Protect plants with downy leaves from winter wet. Propagate from cuttings, self-rooted layers, or seed, or by division.
Gardening Australia suggests you check with your local authorities regarding the weed potential of any plants for your particular area.
© Global Book Publishing (Australia) Pty Ltd from Flora’s Gardening Cards
Veronica and Mazus reptans (white flowers).
There are many species of speedwell – the genus Veronica, in the figwort or snapdragon family (Scrophulariaceae) – that are worthy garden plants. Several of these species are very low-growing types that make excellent ground covers.
These species need a sunny spot in well drained soil, and do best in poor, rocky soils. Because they do not tolerate wet conditions during the winter, use low-growing Veronica species in the rock garden, as a ground cover in dry gardens, in raised beds or in troughs.
Veronica ‘Blue Reflection’ growing among flagstones.
Planted between paving bricks or flagstone, they will fill in the cracks with attractive flowers and foliage. Use them to form a green carpet beneath dwarf conifers and as a filler creeping over rocks and between other taller plants. Flowering is best with limited water and full sun.
The species can be grown from seed sown in spring on the soil surface, while hybrids and cultivars are best propagated from cuttings taken in late spring and early summer, just after flowering. Plants can be sheared after flowering to keep them looking tidy. They are not favored by deer or rabbits.
Veronica oltensis in the summer.
Veronica oltensis (once incorrectly named V. telephifolia f. incissa), or thyme-leaf speedwell, is a very low-growing species with many different uses in the landscape. Native to rocky slopes at high altitudes in the rugged mountains of Turkey, this is a tough plant hardy in zones 4-9.
Thyme-leaf speedwell is slow-growing, long-lived and drought tolerant, forming a mat up to 24” wide and less than an inch high. With its tiny, dark green leaves on trailing stems, this species resembles creeping thyme, but there is no fragrance. Pinnate, slightly hairy leaves cover the stems which reach upward as they trail. The evergreen plants always look nice, but are particularly attractive when flowering. Small blue flowers cover the plant when it is in bloom in late spring or early summer. The individual flowers are about 3/8 inch across and borne in erect racemes. Flower color ranges from sky blue to bright azure to dark violet blue. The almost-lacy-looking foliage has a delicate texture that contrasts nicely with many other plants.
Veronica liwanensis in bloom.
V. liwanensis, Turkish speedwell, is a similar low-growing species with purplish-blue flowers in spring. Plants grow 1-2″ tall and spread to 18″ wide. It is vigorous and quick-growing, with round, glossy evergreen leaves. The prostrate stems root as they elongate, forming a dense carpet. The small but numerous, bright blue flowers bloom in late spring, but may also rebloom lightly later in the summer. This species was a 1997 Plant Select® winner* and is hardy in zones 3-8.
Veronica ‘Blue Reflection’ flowers.
Veronica ‘Blue Reflection’ is a hybrid of V. liwanensis and V. pectinata, or blue woolly speedwell. It has the profuse, true-blue flowers of V. liwanensis and the heat tolerance and vigor of V. pectinata. It blooms a bit later than either parent. This plant gets about 3″ high and will fill in spots quickly. It also forms a dense mat and is hardy in zones 4-9.
There are several other low-growing species that are hardy in our region and remain under 3″ tall including V. armena, V. caespitosa v. caespitosa (pink flowers), V. cunifolia ssp. issaurica, V. guthriana, V. kotschyana, V. pectinata (white or pink), V. prostrata, V. pseudocinerea, several varieties of V. rupestris (some with white or pink flowers), and V. spicata ‘Blue Carpet’ and ‘Nana’. Most have blue flowers, but a few have white or pink flowers.
– Susan Mahr, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Speedwell Creeping Blue Veronica Repens Seeds
Speedwell Creeping Blue Veronica Repens is an evergreen carpeting perennial that is considered to be an alpine plant and can be successfully grown at elevations up to 7500 feet. Speedwell Creeping Blue seeds have to be just slightly pressed into the soil and not covered, because light is needed for germination. Blue Veronica Repens is a very compact, low-growing ground cover plant that only reaches a height of 1 – 2 inches featuring small, shiny green leaves and blooming in late spring and early summer with masses of showy, tiny light-blue flowers.
Speedwell Creeping Blue is an ideal choice for growing between stepping stones or massing as a compact ground cover over a small area. The plant makes a good cover for early spring-blooming bulbs, and it looks terrific in containers, rock gardens, flower beds and border fronts. Veronica Repens seeds germinate in 15-30 days, and once established Speedwell Creeping Blue is a tough and versatile ground-hugger that tolerates light foot traffic and resists deer and rabbit.
Sow Indoors: Winter/Spring (8-10 weeks before last frost)
Sow Outdoors: Spring/Fall
Seed Depth: Surface sowing – press seeds slightly into the soil
Germination Time: 15-30 Days
Royal Candles Veronica flowers
Royal Candles Veronica flowers
(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)
Royal Candles Veronica flowers
Royal Candles Veronica flowers
(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)
Height: 15 inches
Spacing: 10 inches
Hardiness Zone: 4a
Other Names: Spike Speedwell, Ironweed
Upright, compact form with sturdy, lightly fragrant violet-blue flowers spikes; dark green disease resistant foliage
Royal Candles Veronica has masses of beautiful spikes of royal blue flowers rising above the foliage from early to mid summer, which are most effective when planted in groupings. The flowers are excellent for cutting. Its narrow leaves remain forest green in color throughout the season. The fruit is not ornamentally significant.
Royal Candles Veronica is a dense herbaceous perennial with an upright spreading habit of growth. Its relatively fine texture sets it apart from other garden plants with less refined foliage.
This plant will require occasional maintenance and upkeep, and is best cleaned up in early spring before it resumes active growth for the season. It is a good choice for attracting butterflies to your yard, but is not particularly attractive to deer who tend to leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. It has no significant negative characteristics.
Royal Candles Veronica is recommended for the following landscape applications;
- Mass Planting
- Border Edging
- General Garden Use
- Container Planting
Planting & Growing
Royal Candles Veronica will grow to be about 15 inches tall at maturity, with a spread of 15 inches. When grown in masses or used as a bedding plant, individual plants should be spaced approximately 10 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 10 years.
This plant does best in full sun to partial shade. It is very adaptable to both dry and moist locations, and should do just fine under typical garden conditions. It is not particular as to soil type or pH. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments. This is a selected variety of a species not originally from North America. It can be propagated by division; however, as a cultivated variety, be aware that it may be subject to certain restrictions or prohibitions on propagation.
Royal Candles Veronica is a fine choice for the garden, but it is also a good selection for planting in outdoor pots and containers. It is often used as a ‘filler’ in the ‘spiller-thriller-filler’ container combination, providing a mass of flowers against which the larger thriller plants stand out. Note that when growing plants in outdoor containers and baskets, they may require more frequent waterings than they would in the yard or garden. Be aware that in our climate, most plants cannot be expected to survive the winter if left in containers outdoors, and this plant is no exception. Contact our store for more information on how to protect it over the winter months.
Gertens Sizes and Prices
#1 container – $8.99
* Sizes and availability are subject to change. Please check with the store for specific details.
Veronica spicata ‘Glory’ (Spiked speedwell ‘Glory’)
Veronica spicata ‘Glory’
Veronica spicata ‘Royal Candles’, Spiked speedwell ‘Glory’
Variety or Cultivar
‘Glory’ _ ‘Glory’ is a compact, clump-forming herbaceous perennial with mid-green, lance shaped leaves. In summer, it bears narrow spikes of blue-purple flowers on leafy stems.
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Blue in Summer
Green in Summer
How to care
Watch out for
Downy mildew , Leaf spot , Powdery mildew
Cut back faded flowers after flowering in Autumn.
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Where to grow
Veronica spicata ‘Glory’ (Spiked speedwell ‘Glory’) will reach a height of 0.3m and a spread of 0.2m after 2-5 years.
Beds and borders, Bees (attract & feed bees), City, Cottage/Informal, Garden edging, Ground Cover
Plant in loamy, moderately fertile soil, that is moist but well-drained. Prefers full sun but will tolerate light shade.
Moist but well-drained, Well-drained
Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Partial Shade, Full Sun
South, East, West
UK hardiness Note: We are working to update our ratings. Thanks for your patience.
Zone 8, Zone 7, Zone 6, Zone 5, Zone 4, Zone 3
Defra’s Risk register #1
Veronica spicata ‘Glory’ (Spiked speedwell ‘Glory’)
Common pest name
Alfalfa dwarf; Anaheim disease; California vine disease; Dwarf disease of alfalfa; Dwarf disease of lucerne; Leaf scald of oleander; Leaf scald of plum; Leaf scorch; Phony disease of peach; Pierce’s disease of grapevine; Variegated chlorosis of citrus
Scientific pest name
Xylella fastidiosa subsp. multiplex
Current status in UK
Likelihood to spread to UK (1 is very low – 5 is very high)
Impact (1 is very low – 5 is very high)
General biosecurity comments
A bacterial disease with a wide host range detected in Corsica. Although EU regulated; there remains some concern about the risk of introduction. This subspecies is known to be able to thrive in cooler climates. Should an outbreak occur; there would be a need for eradication action which would result in environmental and social impacts.
About this section
Our plants are under greater threat than ever before. There is increasing movement of plants and other material traded from an increasing variety of sources. This increases the chances of exotic pests arriving with imported goods and travellers, as well as by natural means. Shoot is working with Defra to help members to do their part in preventing the introduction and spread of invasive risks.
Traveling or importing plants? Please read “Don’t risk it” advice here
Date updated: 7th March 2019 For more information visit: https://planthealthportal.defra.gov.uk/
Veronica spicata ‘Royal Candles’
By Paul Pilon
By Paul Pilon
Veronica ‘Royal Candles’ is a clump-forming, bushy cultivar often utilized in rock gardens, as a border plant or in containers. This cultivar has many distinguishing characteristics such as a compact growth habit, reaching only 10-12 inches tall; clean leafy foliage topped with numerous vertical flower spikes; and deep blue-purple flowers, lasting from late spring to midsummer. With these characteristics, it is well suited to production in small container sizes and for marketing alongside bedding plants.
Royal Candles was discovered in Kent, England, by an avid gardener, Heather Philpott. This cultivar, like other veronica varieties, prefers full sun, although in the South it performs best when grown under partial shade. The genus is named in honor of St. Veronica, as the markings on the flowers of certain species resemble the markings on the sacred handkerchief of St. Veronica. It is both heat and cold hardy in Zones 3-8. For more continuous blooming, it is recommended to deadhead or remove the old blooms.
Royal Candles is vegetatively propagated, most commonly by tip cuttings and division by licensed propagators. Since a plant patent is being sought (PPAF), unlicensed propagation of this cultivar is prohibited.
Royal Candles performs best when grown in a moist, well-drained medium that has a slightly acidic pH of 5.5-6.2. It is a moderate feeder and needs either a constant liquid fertilization program at rates of 50-100 parts per million (ppm) nitrate or a controlled release fertilizer incorporated at a rate equivalent to 1 lb. of nitrogen per yard of growing medium. Plants grown under a low fertility regimen will most likely appear chlorotic and exhibit a delay in flowering. ç
Royal Candles requires frequent irrigation. When irrigation is necessary, I recommend watering thoroughly then allowing the soil to dry slightly between waterings.
Generally, Royal Candles is relatively insect and disease free. Aphids, whiteflies and thrips will occasionally become problematic. Of these insect pests, aphids are the most prevalent. To control aphids, I recommend a preventative application of Marathon 60WP as a drench, which will generally ensure aphid-free plants from spring planting until the plants are shipped. Other preventative strategies include monthly spray applications of systemic chemicals such as Endeavor or Marathon II. Another reason I recommend using a preventative program such as the one described above, is that one application will prevent the occurrence of whiteflies as well.
Botrytis is occasionally a problem on the lower foliage where air movement is limited and the foliage often stays wet for extended periods of time after irrigation. Powdery mildew and downy mildew are also likely to be observed. At first, powdery mildew appears as small white, talcum-like colonies on the upper leaf surfaces, but under the right conditions, the disease may engulf the plant with a “powdery” appearance. Downy mildew usually appears first on the undersides of the leaves as a mass of white or gray spores, and often the upper leaf surface (directly above where the spores are observed) will appear mottled, discolored or blistered. To control these diseases, it is best to manage the environment by providing proper plant spacing, adequate air movement, low humidity, or if desired, follow a preventative spray program using the appropriate chemicals.
Controlling plant height is not usually necessary when producing Royal Candles under greenhouse conditions. Providing adequate spacing between plants will reduce stretch caused by competition. Under certain growing conditions or under high plant densities, it may be necessary, although not common, to use chemical plant growth regulators. In the northern parts of the country, I would recommend applying Sumagic at 5 parts per million. Applying 1-2 applications seven days apart should provide adequate height control.
Forcing Royal Candles into bloom out of season is relatively easy, but there may be a few complications that could alter your ability to schedule blooming plants predictably. Although I have not seen any research on this particular cultivar of veronica, I feel it is safe to make a few assumptions based on research conducted on other cultivars of veronica. ç
Veronicas have an obligate cold requirement in order for them to flower. However, cuttings harvested from stock plants that have received a cold period will flower without receiving a cold treatment. For example, assume that you receive rooted cuttings from two suppliers in May. One supplier had stock plants that never received vernalization (cold requirement), and the other harvested cuttings from plants that were over-wintered. If you are looking to produce flowering plants for sale two months after you receive your rooted cuttings, you will be able to produce flowering veronicas only from the supplier whose stock plants were over-wintered and received the proper vernalization. The other supplier’s plants will grow to a shippable size but will remain vegetative.
I recommend cooling plugs or small containers of Royal Candles for a minimum of six weeks at 41¡ F. They will flower under any photoperiod after the cold requirement has been achieved during stock plant production, plug production or while grown in the finished container.
The time from vernalization to bloom is a function of temperature. Royal Candles grown at 68¡ F will take eight weeks to reach flowering, while plants grown at 60¡ F will flower in 11 weeks. Veronicas grown under warmer temperatures will have smaller flowers than plants grown under cooler temperature regimes. The best flower size is achieved by growing at temperatures averaging 60¡ F.
Royal Candles is brought to the marketplace by Plant Haven, Inc., Santa Barbara, Calif. Plugs are available only from licensed propagators. Finished containers may be purchased from many reputable companies across the country. For a list of licensed propagators, contact Plant Haven.