Growing Verbena Bonariensis

Purple wisps in September make this Verbena a favourite.


Verbena Bonariensis


  • Common Name: Verbena
  • Genus: Verbena
  • Species: bonariensis
  • Exposure: Full sun / but also does well in partial sun
  • Hardiness: Half Hardy
  • Soil type: Well-drained/light, Moist
  • Height: 130-160cm
  • Spread: 45cm
  • Time to plant seeds: March to April or late summer.
  • Flowering period: August to October

Verbena Bonariensis has been enjoying a resurgence of interest as people increasingly become interested in the ‘priarie garden’. Verbena Bonariensis is ideal for this informal style of planting as it can shoot up offering small lilac flowers from June to September.

  • Verbena Bonariensis can grow up to 2 metres and its height offers extra interest, without casting too much shade on surrounding plants.
  • It does well in sunny, well drained soil. The soil doesn’t need to be rich and will even come through cracks in paving stones. It is susceptible to cold frosts; it is advised to wait until early spring before cutting back stems.
  • It will seed freely once established, it even can become a little dominating, but, if you are happy for a free flowing garden style it is ideal.
  • I love the way Verbena bonariensis can grow up between different plants.


Repeat Season Flowering

After flowering, you can cut back to a few inches off ground level. This will then grow again. However, after one or two seasons, the plant becomes weaker. It is better to allow new plants to grow from self-seed.


You can sow in Autumn for mid summer flowering. It was also flower in first year, if you sow in early spring. It is a good early Autumn flower. The seed heads can be attractive even after first frosts.

I find it is very successful to sow in the ground. It seems nice and resistant to slugs and snails – which is  real boon for outdoor sowing.
Butterfly and flowers
Butterfly and flowers by Kew CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


Verbena Bonariensis is one of my favourite plants. This is actually poking up from some cracks in the patio; giving an impact of meadow planting. It like its informality, height and delicacy of flower. I think it is best when grown in random clumps.

Generally verbena bonariensis grows well from seed. Scatter some on the soil in late July / August and if lucky it will continue to self sow for many years.

Verbena bonariensis looks to be a special purple in the fading light of autumn. It is strange how flowers look different in different lights.

When laying out a garden for colour consider the position of the sun, in spring and autumn, which will dictate the colour temperature and saturation of the light.

This verbena is very attractive to butterflies

Anemone Japonica looks pink in the shade of the house. In full sun the colour is burnt out to a less attractive lighter shade of pink.

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Perfect Parsley

Parsley Tips

  • I have grown this parsley from spring sown seed. Germination can be a bit erratic as warm temperatures are needed.
  • After a summer in the herb bed I have potted a clump up in the greenhouse.
  • Before the worst frosts I will bring a pot into the house for snipping onto potatoes and garnishing fish.
  • The flat leaved variety is one of my favourite herbs but I am not very successful at growing it. Fortunately there are many varieties that seem to be within my compass.
  • Parsley is a hungry feeder so if growing in a container add some bone meal

The curly herb Parsley crispum is naturally slow to germinate. If the soil dries out it may never germinate.

DSC03927 - parsley

Germination Tips

  • Try watering the drill then sow the seed in the drill covering with dry soil. This covering will dramatically reduce evaporation so the seed will be in contact with moisture for longer.
  • Continue Reading →

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Architectural Yucca Plants

Book Cover

For architectural plants we seem to think of spiky leaves like Cordylines, Phormiums and Yuccas. If you are keen to understand the differences and a bit of history of each species try ‘Architectural Plants What to Grow and How to Grow it’

If you just want shape and form in your garden try some Yuccas which have exotic foliage and then flower like a lily.


Yucca plants are succulent and retain moisture in the leaf and trunk. Read more about Succulents.

Yucca are easy to care for

Yucca are long lived plants.

Repot your Yucca every few years with fresh compost.

Read about Exotic plant books on Garden Products
Continue Reading →

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Growing Succulents and Cacti


What are Succulents

  • All cacti are succulents but all succulents are not Cacti.
  • Succulents are a wide group of plants that have evolved from ancient tropical forests to combat the feast and famine of water supply.
  • Succus is the latin for juice.  Succulent plants have   stems,branches, roots, stalks, leaves or flowers that are juicy, fleshy or thick to retain moisture.
  • Parts of succulents above the ground act as reservoirs of water.
  • Succulents are varied plants not one or even related groups or families of plants.

How do Succulents Preserve  Water

Continue Reading →

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Gunnera and Unrelated BrunneraTips

Massive Gunnera Tips

  • Gunnera with giant green leaves grow over 6 feet tall and spread even wider. They are not for small spaces!
  • Gunnera are moisture loving, herbaceous plants best suited for stream or lakeside positions.
  • They make specimen architectural plants for a bog garden but control the size.
  • Cover the plant to protect from hard frost
  • Sometimes called giant rhubarb the leaves are not edible

Brunnera Tips

  • Heart shaped variegated leaves followed by blue, forget-me-not look alike, flowers make this a very attractive plant.
  • Brunneras like a moist soil but can tolerate some dry spells
  • Brunneras also like shade and are useful in a woodland setting
  • Grow in containers or as ground cover these 18inch high plants are versatile.
  • A new golden leaved form is available www.parkseedjournal
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Lewisia Growing Tips


I have talked before of Lewisia becoming trendy and offered some growing tips.
I have had another year of experience and like the way my plants are performing.
The above plant is flowering amongst the old leaves of the primula that cropped up in the sandy soil of my rockery.

Description of Lewisia

  • From the Portulacaceae family most Lewisias could almost be mistaken for succulents.
  • They produce thick or fleshy, green, shiny waxy leaves in rosettes.
  • Continue Reading →

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For Mulch get Strulch

This is an unashamed plug for a garden mulch product called  Strulch.

I have used it and it works. If you doubt me look at some of the UK’s top gardens listed below who have also got ‘Strulch mulch’.

Gardens Using Strulch

The Eden Project, Cornwall Continue Reading →

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Terracotta Potting Pots

Pots for potting

Reuseable and recyclable terracotta pots have been a staple in the potting shed for many generations. As a child I was always interested in the concept of ‘throwing pots’ but now I think I know better (but then again may be not).

Benefits of Pot Pots

  • Watering pot pots can be done by capillary action (bottom up) or from the top.
  • These pots are generally freer draining than plastic pots.
  • Air can circulate around pots and find its way into or out of the soil to the benefit of plants.
  • Pot pots have a cooling effect as water evaporates through the sides.
  • Plants are easy to de-pot for potting up into a larger size.
  • Broken pot shards can be used to ‘crock’ the bottom of pots.

Plants that prefer Pot Pots.

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Controlling Earwig Problems

Earwigs do not deserve their bad reputation in the garden or inside your ear for that matter.

Problems Earwigs Cause

  • Earwigs are night feeders and chew holes in foliage and vegetables.
  • Flowers and blossom can also become food for a hungry Earwig as can very small insects.
  • Earwig families look threatening but do not eat as copiously as some insects.
  • Dahlias can become infested with earwigs and they drop out of the flowers when brought inside.

Controlling Earwigs

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Primula Family – Selected Photographs

skipton 021

Wild flowers including the Cowslip and Oxlip are both part of the large Primula family P. dioram and P. elatior respectively. The Primrose both wild and cultivated is also one of the 450 or so Primulacea.

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After viewing these pictures of Primroses look at the other relatives including Primula deticula and Harlow Carr hybrids.


Auriculas have featured recently on gardeners tips.
Continue Reading →

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