Where to plant verbena?

The verbena plant produces fragrant, good looking flowers that sit atop fern-like foliage with an old-fashioned look and drought tolerant.

Verbena plants consist of around 250 semi-woody species with dense patches of flowers sitting on top.

The simple verbena leaf sometimes appears densely hairy. Flowers situated at the top of the stem in very dense spikes each with five petals.

Usually growing in clumps 6″ to 10″ inches in height makes them ideal hanging basket plants.

Verbena plants typically produce brilliant large bloom in shades of white, cream, pink, red, lavender, and deep violet, some having flirty little eyes.

Flowers typically bloom from mid-summer to fall and provide beautiful accents for window boxes and rock gardens.

Verbena plants have a tendency of blooming from spring to fall and very minimal maintenance make Verbena’s a must-have plant for the garden.

Regarded as a perennial in the warm climates where frost doesn’t present an issue, it grows successfully as an annual in areas with freezing temperatures.

Lemon verbena (aloysia citrodora), also known as the lemon beebrush, grows up to two to three meters high.

This perennial shrub makes one flowering plant species of the verbena family coming from South America.

It produces tiny white or purple flowers which bloom in late spring or early summer.

Also, its long glossy pointed leaves emit a scent reminiscent of the lemon making it a great lemon alternative to many dishes.

Pink Verbena, or Georgia’s pink verbena, appears as a lesser-known species although butterflies love their presence.

It bears large clusters of pink flowers accompanied with hairy foliage blooming all summer. Like most varieties, it needs a well-drained soil to thrive.

Verbena Tenuisicta or moss verbena, a native of Georgia that spread across Florida, spreads fast in old fields and roadsides.

Despite its mossy and fern-like foliage, it greatly attracts butterflies. This evergreen perennial requires fairly dry soil and warm temperatures.

Verbena x Hybrida, commonly known as garden verbena, blooms tiny flowers with five petals in a sepal.

This short-lived perennial can tolerate light shades and provides brilliant blooms during summer.

Verbena hybrida looks great for trailing types of hanging baskets and rock gardens.

The Verbena hastata blue vervain or wild hyssop grows wild but it serves as the favorite choice of gardeners in designing landscapes. Its unique flowers branch upwards like the arms of the candelabra.

Verbena canadensis, the trailing Verbena is also known as rosa verbena and clump verbena, loves summer or warmer areas.

It blooms beautiful purple verbena flowers blooming from spring to the cold fall season.

The purple flowering Brazilian Verbena bonariensis reseed very well and some gardeners hesitate before growing them in there garden.

History Of The Verbena Plant

Is Verbena a perennial?

The Verbena perennial plant holds a remarkable history and legend among several cultures.

Known as the “Tears of Isis” in ancient Egypt, the Egyptians believed the plant held supernatural and divine properties.

The ancient Greeks referred to Verbena as the “Tears of Juno”. Christian folklore suggests they used Verbena to treat Jesus wounds once he was removed from the cross.

Also its use in magical charms, a common symbol of love and associated with the fertility goddesses.

In modern, horror literature, Hollywood used Verbena in the popular TV series – The Vampire Diaries to protect human beings from vampires.

Tips On Planting Verbena

So, how to grow Verbena?

Verbenum plants grow well in USDA Hardiness Zones 2 – 8 and are available in most garden centers.

When growing verbena from seed start them indoors in late winter by placing 2 seeds in fiber or peat pots. Cover them lightly soil.

Water pots and keep soil moist not wet. Verbena seeds take about one month before showing any signs of life.

Once plant reaches the 3 or 4 leaves stage begin to hardened them for use outdoors.

Since they take some time to germinate, most gardeners simply buy young plants from a local garden center.

If starting seed indoors under LED grow lights, plant 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date.

Plant verbena in full sun in compost-amended beds once all the danger of frost passes. Space plants 10″ to 12″ inches apart.

Verbena though not too particular about soil except it does need a well-drained soil. If you grow Verbena in garden beds of soil that becomes soggy after spring rains or heavy winter snow the perennial varieties will usually die.

Good drainage can take care of this problem. Improve the drainage before planting verbena by working in organic, properly composted material.

Verbena Care

Fortunately, Verbena flowers draw attention but the plants do not demand attention! Once established water the plants when they dry out.

Fertilize plants with a balanced fertilizer once in the spring of the year after planting and establishing outside.

If you live in an area where verbena grows as a perennial cut the plant back in the fall. If the grow as an annual in your location, remove the plants once they finished flower in the fall.

How To Deadhead Verbena?

If planted in the proper growing conditions you can expect blooms in the first season. Deadhead faded flowers or blooms to ensure that blooming continues all through the gardening season. Some people do not regularly deadhead faded blooms. But, deadheading is necessary if you plant verbena for summer blooms.

If the blooms slow, trim the whole plant by a quarter for a new show of flowers in 2 to 3 weeks. Following the trim, fertilize lightly and water well. Repeat this process as necessary when learning how to grow your verbena successfully.

Verbena Diseases & Pests

The main pests the red verbena bush experiences are:

  • Small spider mites
  • Black, green and yellow aphids –> natural homemade aphid killers here
  • Snails, slugs
  • … and thrips

Spraying with insecticidal soap concentrate diluted with water proves effective when battling the bugs.

You can beat slugs by setting an aluminum pie plate full of beer out in the heavily infested areas of the garden or yard.

The beer attracts the slugs and they will die once filling up on the intoxicating beverage.

The verbena plants can be affected by diseases such as leaf spot and powdery mildew fungal infections.

You can find various chemical and natural products to help you control these problems.

You can find out more about such products at your local garden center.

Companion Planting & Design

Verbena makes amazing window box plants, beautiful hanging baskets, and wonderful containers paired with other cascading annuals that love full sun such as calibrachoa and lantana.

Consider mixing and matching them with tall annuals such as fragrant heliotrope, Cleome (spider flower), and the salvia plant in containers too.

Place containers on a patio, deck or near a window and watch the butterflies that will inevitably show their attraction to the flowers. Plant tall varieties in the back of perennial or annual flowerbeds to add color and surprise.

Uses Of The Verbena Plant

Verbena species earned a lot of attention from the early times in the field of folk medicine and herbalism.

The vervain tea makes one proof of this. As per the book of Nicholas Culpeper, The English Physician (1952), the herbal tea promotes lactation and acts as a sex steroid analogue.

Apart from medicinal benefits, the verbena species all look beautiful that they serve as wonderful garden additions.

You can use some as ornamental grass, while others make great choices for rock gardens, hanging baskets and window boxes.


The vervain verbena plant does not require too much effort to plant to maintain as clearly shown in this article. All you need to do is follow the discussed tips and you will be growing verbena successfully in no time.

Image of purple Verbena flowers, Verbena bonariensis (Argentinean vervain) stock photo…

Frequently asked questions

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Verbena Plant Care: How To Grow Verbena Plants

If you’re searching for long lasting blooms that perform during the hottest days of summer heat, consider planting the verbena flower (Verbena officinalis). Planting verbena, whether annual or perennial types, ensures summer flowers when it is planted in the sunniest and possibly driest area of the garden. If humidity is high in your area in summer, choose perennial verbena for a better summer show.

How to Grow Verbena

When you are ready to learn how to grow verbena, you’ll want to locate this tough specimen where it gets eight to 10 hours of sun each day.

The verbena flower is not particular about soil, except that it must be well-draining. Poor soil is acceptable for verbena growing conditions. Perennial varieties of the verbena flower are often lost when planted in soil that becomes soggy following heavy winter snow or spring rain. Good drainage can offset this problem. Improve drainage before planting verbena by working in well composted, organic material.

Verbena Plant Care

While the verbena flower is drought resistant, the blooms are improved with regular watering of an inch or so each week. Water verbena plants at the base to avoid wetting the foliage. However, verbena plant care may not include weekly water if rainfall in your area has reached an inch or more.

A limited application of complete, slow-release fertilizer is also a part of verbena plant care. Apply in spring and again following the occasional trims needed for optimum bloom.

When planted in proper verbena growing conditions, expect blooms the first season. Continued blooms throughout the summer are possible if the gardener keeps the plant trimmed back. Some are hesitant to remove parts of the plant regularly, but this is often necessary when planting verbena for summer blooms. When blooms slow, trim the entire plant back by one fourth for a new show of flowers in two to three weeks. Fertilize lightly following the trim and water well. Repeat this step as needed when learning how to grow verbena successfully.

When planting verbena, remember to water, fertilize and trim for long lasting color in the summer garden and beyond.


Dr. Jerry Parsons
Texas Cooperative Extension
San Antonio, Texas
Greg Grant,
Lone Star Growers
San Antonio, Texas

The search is endless for a plant which blooms profusely, tolerates heat and endures from year to year. Throughout the years we always come back to one of the showiest of perennial flowers — the verbena. Verbena has many attributes such as heat tolerance, everblooming and enduring. However, since nothing is perfect, verbena has some faults which, if known in advance, can be avoided. Remembering that “a word to the wise is sufficient”, I will concentrate this article on the faults of verbena so you can know how to successfully grow one of Texas’ most adapted plants.
The first, and probably most significant, Verbena problem is knowing how to identify the best of the Verbena types. In 1985 Extension horticulturists began to clarify Verbena nomenclature. Verbena types available are the short-lived annual verbena (Verbena hortensis); the large-flowered, short-lived perennial verbena (sometimes referred to the species V. x hybrida types); and the smaller-flowered but long-lived perennial verbena loosely referred to by botanists as Verbena Hybrids (Verbena x tenera). Throughout the years local horticulturists have noticed that a particular form of the last classification of Verbena Hybrids are among the easiest of the verbena to grow and would normally be perennial unless exposed to a wet spring or fall when the foliage is susceptible to attacks of the fungus called powdery mildew. To clearly identify this superior Verbena for garden consumers was a major problem. The adapted Verbena was called by many names such as common verbena (there were at least three types called verbena!), sand verbena and vervain. The most adapted Verbena did not have a common name which could be agreed upon by the numerous botanists consulted because this Verbena is a hybrid (mixture of species). Regardless of its true identity, all agree that it is a tough, Texas plant which should be planted in this area by those who enjoy beautiful bloom in the heat of summer. To plainly identify this Verbena, it was given the name TexTuf. TexTuf verbena is available in three colors — purple, pink and red. The true TexTuf Verbena has a label in each group of plants clearly identifying it as the selected type. Otherwise, the buyer has to be familiar with the plant-type to know it is the long-lasting Verbena.
The second problem with Verbena is planting location and culture. Most people make the mistake of pampering it. It MUST be planted in the sunniest, best drained spot in your landscape. It WILL NOT bloom profusely, and, in fact, becomes diseased with powdery mildew unless the plants get plenty of sunlight (8-10 hours of direct, sunbathing sunlight). Verbenas do not require a particularly rich soil but periodic (at least monthly) applications of a slow-release, complete fertilizer such as 19-5-9 at the rate of one pound per 100 square feet are beneficial during the growing season. In the case of plants which have borne an abundance of bloom and then show signs of going out of bloom, a light pruning will produce another crop of flowers within 15-20 days. Here’s the problem; people DO NOT want to cut plants back and WILL NOT cut them back as long as one pitiful-looking bloom endures. People who cannot discipline themselves to to shear old blooms periodically should not grow Verbena. After the first spectacular bloom display cut-shy people will be looking at ugly for the rest of the season and wondering why. Bloom removal is not tedious. Simply trim about a fourth of the plant’s top growth, including old flowers but do not expose main stems, with a flexible line trimmer. Pruning removes old flower parts, shortens the plants and encourages branching which soon results in an even showier and prolonged display of bloom especially if you will fertilize and water after each cutback. Cutback will probably be required two or three times per season. The final, most drastic cutback will be in the fall when plants are cutback so winter annuals such as pansies, dianthus or bluebonnets can the interplanted among the Verbena.
The third problem with Verbena is that they are susceptible to a few pests. Well, so is every other living thing! I mentioned that Verbena is susceptible to the fungus powdery mildew if planted in a wet, shady locale. If the plant is neglected (not fertilized and watered properly) it is likely to become infested with spider mites, a common Texas nemesis. Miticides such as Kelthane (Red Spider Mite Spray) with two teaspoons of liquid detergent added per gallon of spray applied every 5 days for four consecutive sprays will help. Organic growers can use insecticidal soaps or sulfur dust but an invasion of spider mites MUST be dealt with or plants can be destroyed. Leaf miners which make little trails in the leaves do not cause significant damage but are ever-present. Systemic insecticides such as isotox, disyston (Systemic Insecticide), and cygon can be used periodically for longer lasting insect control. Thrips can also be a problem and can be controlled with the same insecticides.
The three problems which I mention, just to make you aware, SHOULD NOT distract gardeners from using one of the few summer perennials which can survive and beautify the Texas summers (which are usually hotter than Hades!) If you have a sunny, well-drained location and are willing to shear Verbenas periodically, I will make three recommendations:

  1. Any of the TEXTUF SERIES — purple, pink and red
  2. A NEVER-BEFORE AVAILABLE IN THE U.S., beautiful blue Verbena from England named BLUE PRINCESS VERBENA(Verbena x hybrida ‘Blue Princess’). It is a rapidly spreading perennial Verbena with showy lavender-blue flowers. This variety was discovered in England by Greg Grant, former Bexar County Extension Horticulturist, while on a plant collecting trip to England for Lone Star Growers. Lone Star has graciously made this new, blue verbena available to everyone to try this year. This area of Texas will be the test site and we would appreciate your comments after growing this tough little beauty from the Old Country.
  3. The TEXAS ROSE VERBENA (Verbena x hybrida ‘Texas Rose’)is a spreading perennial with showy bright rose flowers above lacy foliage. The ‘Texas Rose’ doesn’t have the regal history as does the ‘Blue Princess’ — instead of discovering it in a far away country, Greg Grant and Jerry Parsons found it in a road ditch in Batesville. Regardless of its heritage, ‘Texas Rose’ is another verbena worth trying. After all, if it can live and survive in a road ditch in Batesville with little or no care, maybe some “brown thumb” gardeners can grow it too!

Verbena is described as “a genus of perennial herbs (sometimes known by the ancient name Vervain)”. Verbenas have been known since the most ancient times. The druids had the greatest veneration for the plant, and before gathering it offered a sacrifice to the soil. They also held bunches of verbena between their hands during their devotions. When the Romans sent messengers of peace to other nations they adorned their apparel with sprays of verbena. Images of Venus Victrix were often crowned with wreaths of verbena and myrtle. The peoples of Antiquity also attributed verbenas with certain medicinal properties. It was noted that much of the fame attached to the plants was mainly attributable to magical practices performed with the herbs. The Romans credited powers of rekindling the flames of dying love to the plant, and gave it the name Herba Veneris (plant of Venus). During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, it became an instrumental component in the rites of witches and sorcerers. In folk medicine, a decoction of verbena leaves boiled in vinegar was used to treat rheumatic pains, lumbago, and pleurisy. It also provided a potion for aiding digestion. The flowering tips of young growth and the leaves of Verbena officinalis dried in the sun contain the glucoside verbenaline which, if incorrectly used, can cause paralysis. All of the Verbena which I have previously mentioned are crosses of several species and not intended for herbal use. I just though since some people enjoy saying they are growing “herbs”, Verbena fits right into the herb category. Besides, Verbena is a beautiful blooming herb which will tolerate all that a hot Texas summer has to offer. THIS YEAR you will be able to have a royal experience with the ‘Blue Princess’ and a tough-as-Texas experience with ‘Texas Rose’. Why don’t you mix and match? What about royalty and the rugged — the blue of ‘Blue Princess’ with the rose colored ‘Texas Rose’? What about the red of TexTuf Red with the blue of ‘Blue Princess’?

With their bright and vivid hues, verbenas are a real garden treasure. Some species trail while others form colorful mounds and bring life wherever they grow. Check out the different types of verbenas here.

Verbena, sometimes also called vervain, refers to a genus of annual and perennial plants in the Verbenaceae flower family. The genus consists of approximately 250 different species of flowering plants, most of which are native to Asia and America. Verbenas are renowned for producing small but showy flowers of mostly pink and purple shades although other varieties also produce blue, red or white blossoms.

Due to their hardiness, verbenas have always been prized amongst novice and expert gardeners alike. Characterized by their rapid growth, verbenas are heavy bloomers that can turn an otherwise plain garden into a dazzling display of colorful hues in no time. Be it groundcover, flowerbeds, containers, and baskets or even wall cover and window boxes, verbenas are the ideal choice for various uses. So, whether you need a flowering plant for a certain purpose or are just looking for the next best plant to grow in your own backyard, rest assured there is a verbena that will meet your gardening tastes and preferences.

Read on to discover the top-most types of verbena and learn more about the features, characteristics, growth and maintenance needs of these gorgeous beauties.

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Types of Verbenas According to Growth

Trailing Verbenas

As the name suggests, trailing verbenas are species of verbena that follow a long and spreading growth pattern. These are usually grown in hanging pots and window boxes where they can ‘trail’ out of the container, as well as near the edge of walls in order to cover it as it grows.

Needless to say, trailing verbenas require proper maintenance and periodic pruning to keep the vines in shape. Also, the dead stems must be trimmed and removed in time; otherwise they will start to rot. Trailing verbenas are available in multiple colors that include pristine white, white with pink lines, dark purple, bright pink, rich red, pale lavender and so on.

Upright Verbenas

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Unlike the trailing species, upright verbenas are plants that grow in a straight and upright manner. Their stalks can reach up to 6 feet high and laden with flowers, and for sure will catch every eye from afar. Upright verbena species are good for forming perennial borders or for growing along fences.

Moss Verbenas (Verbena Tenuisecta)

Verbena tenuisecta or moss verbenas are called so because their delicate foliage features leaves that are so fine that they resemble moss. Reaching an average height of about 5 to 6 inches, this species has the lowest growth amongst all other verbena varieties but looks equally stunning nonetheless. Moss verbenas are the ultimate fit for rock gardens but are also grown commonly besides (or in between the rocks in) walkways in a regular garden. They can tolerate frost but bloom only during late summer and early fall.

Annual Verbenas

Verbenas are basically a perennial species which means that they generally live for up to two years or more. However, many types of verbena only flower once, completing their life and withering away within one year of plantation. But gardeners simply couldn’t let that get in the way. Therefore, the ‘annual’ variety of verbenas was bred by scientists to satisfy the craze for growing these magnificent charmers. As the name suggests, annual verbenas life for an entire year but what is different is that instead of blooming in summer like most of the naturally found varieties, these hybrids bloom almost all year round. So, if you are looking for plants that will truly provide long-lasting color in your garden throughout the whole year, then opting for annual verbenas is your best bet.

This type of verbenas is a large occupant of many nurseries and is available in various colors such as white, pink, purple, red and a blend of different hues.

Common Types of Verbena

Purpletop Verbena (Verbena Bonariensis)

Verbena Bonariensis also goes by various other names such as Purpletop vervain, Argentinian Verbena, Tall Verbena as well as Pretty Verbena. This variety originated from South America where it is a common sight in most of the warm regions of Colombia, Chile, Brazil, and Argentina. Therefore, purpletop verbena is often simply called South American Vervain in its native regions.

The plant is a true upright variety that can grow up to 6 feet tall and spread 3 feet across. The dull purple blossoms are strongly fragrant, appear during mid-summer and continue to provide a soothing sight for sore eyes until the first frost falls. Verbena Bonariensis is a pollinator attractor so, when you grow this variety also prepare to welcome a swarm of buzzing bees and cheerful butterflies flying in and out of your garden.

Brazilian Verbena (Verbena Brasiliensis) 🔥 TIP: !

The term Brazilian verbena or Brazilian vervain is often used interchangeably for the purpletop verbena, but the true Brazilian verbena is actually a different species altogether. Although it is native to South America or to be more precise, Brazil, the species has spread rapidly to other regions and is perceived as an invasive weed.

The Brazilian Verbena is an herbaceous plant which means that it grows as a low-lying shrub. Usually featuring purple shades, this type of verbena produces rich clusters of five-lobed and tubular flowers coupled with small and indented leaves. Brazilian Verbena is widely spotted in natural areas as well in home gardens in various parts of North America, such as Oregon, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Virginia, Hawaii and many more.

Blue Vervain (Verbena Hastata)

Verbena Hastata, also known as the Blue vervain, American vervain or Swamp verbena is an herbaceous plant in the Verbenaceae family. Commonly seen all across North America, this type of verbenas is quite similar to the true Brazilian verbenas except that it can survive under more harsh weather conditions and produces beautiful blue flowers instead of purple ones.

Blue vervains are quite different from most of the other varieties in the sense that instead of growing in clusters, the flowers grows on thin and long individual branches that join together at the other end, giving the plant a unique and sophisticated look.

California Vervain (Verbena Californica)

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California Vervain or the Red Hills vervain is a rather rare species of verbena whose growth is mostly limited to the Tuolumne County in California. The plant features small and slender, grass-like leaves on hairy stems that bear miniature purple flowers. The flowers contain five petals that grow closely together in small bunches.

California Vervain is unique to about a dozen spots in the Red Hills mountain range and has been listed under the endangered species because of being threatened by various factors such as cattle grazing, mining, trash dumping and other human interferences that damage its natural habitats.

Tuberous Vervain (Verbena Rigida)

Verbena Rigida or Tuberous Vervain is sometimes also called slender vervain due to its delicate plant structure. This type of verbenas is a herbaceous shrub that grown an average of 24 inches high. The plant also spread widely across and is, therefore, a good choice for garden beds as well as growing in pots and containers besides pool and patios. The leaves are toothed and stalkless and accentuated by the vibrant purple and magenta blossoms. Tuberous Vervain flowers are considerably scented and growing them in large patches will uplift the place with a dreamy fragrance. Although original verbena rigida features hues of purple, the species has been interbred to create different cultivars and hence, you can now choose tuberous verbenas from a wide range of colors.

The plant is native to South America but can be easily grown in home gardens in North America so long as there is sufficient sunlight and proper soil conditions. What makes tuberous vervain really fascinating is the shape of their petals, which look like a half hearts joined together in a circular ring (see close-up image below)

Texas Rose Verbena

A hybrid species, this type of verbena is not just a true perennial but also a real stunner. With intense pink flowers that are highlighted by the lively greens, the Texas Rose verbena is the preferred choice when it comes to quickly filling up empty spaces in the garden or nurturing a plant that will survive and flourish for a long time.

Blue Princess Verbena

Another hybrid species, this type of verbena was bred to produce bright blue flowers. However, don’t be confused by the name. Blue Princess verbena is not always blue. While their blooms can be mild blue in color, most plants actually produce lavender-colored light purplish-blue blossoms that are hardy up to zone 10. These showy flowers start blooming from early spring and continue well until the end of fall season. These verbenas grow in round clusters that contain lots of five-petal flowers arranged in a bunch.

White Vervain (Verbena Urticifolia)

Verbena Urticifolia, also called nettle-leaved vervain or more commonly as white vervain is one of the true types of verbena flowers. This herbaceous species is a perennial which means it has an average lifespan of two or more years. White verbena got the alternate name nettle-leaved vervain because the leaves, stem and flower stalks are all covered in soft bristles. Starting from early summer, the plant produces small buds on racemes (spikes like structures) that blooms open into pristine white flowers. However, some plants in Verbena Urticifolia also produce slightly bluish-white flowers as well.

The seeds and fruits of white verbenas are equally unique – dark purple capsules with miniature brown seeds.

Mint Vervain (Verbena Menthifolia)

The Verbena Menthifolia species commonly known as mint vervain or mint-leaved verbena is native to northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. This species prefers open and dry habitats and grows up to a maximum of 75 cm tall. The leaves are hairy and relatively small whereas the flowers grow as inflorescences (clusters) on slender upright stems.

Narrowleaf Vervain (Verbena Simplex)

Verbena Simplex is another type of verbenas that is more commonly referred to as the narrow leaf verbena. This herbaceous plant originates from North America and flourishes best when grown in dry and open lands that have calcium-rich soil. Verbena simplex produces flowers that have a similar color as that of lavenders and bloom excessively throughout the summer months.

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Aren’t these flowers really appealing? When the winds of summer blow, it’s time for verbenas to grow. Plant these modest charmers in your own backyard, and you will surely relish the sight once these flowers bloom.

Return to all flowers.

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Tags: Flowers Categories: Gardens and Landscaping

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