The verbenas are small annual or perennial plants, generally originating from the American continent, with some species, such as Verbena officinalis, coming from Europe; the most cultivated verbenas are of hybrid varieties, generally obtained starting from American botanical species.
The varieties of verbene x hybrida on the market are generally perennials, often cultivated as annuals, mostly ground cover.
They produce thin, well-branched, creeping, flexible stems, which carry some small leaves with an incised or serrated margin, sometimes slightly leathery, rough to the touch. From spring to autumn cold they produce numerous inflorescences consisting of small flowers in shades of pink and red; being hybrid varieties there are various shades, even with fragrant flowers.
The verbenas are easy to cultivate, both in pots and in flower beds; the availability of numerous colors, of varieties with particular growth habit, and the ease with which these plants can be propagated by division of the tufts, has made them very present plants in gardens and on terraces.
Verbena and the sun
Surely these small plants are not suitable for cultivation in a dark, shady place, not directly affected by sunlight; within a few weeks your verbena will stop flowering and become prey to fungi and other parasites. We place our verbenas in full sun, with a slight shade only in areas with torrid climate, during the summer weeks.
Verbena x hybrida plants are not very demanding, and do not produce an overly developed root system, so they can be grown in small flowerbeds, or in pots, using a good fresh, rich, very well drained soil.
In addition to shade, the verbena fears excessive humidity, and needs watering only when the soil is decidedly dry; they endure even prolonged periods of drought without problems; withered plants due to lack of water quickly recover once watered; while verbene cultivated with the always damp soil they tend to get sick and decay.
They do not like the excess of fertilizer, therefore we avoid to fertilize them, also because placing them with fresh universal soil we already supply the plant with all the fertilizer it needs.
Generally most of the hybrid varieties of verbena x hybrida are perennial and do not fear the cold; the plant dries on arrival of cold and begins to sprout again with the arrival of spring. In reality, the verbenas do not always remain beautiful and luxuriant over the years, and very intense frosts can ruin them beyond repair; in fact they are often grown as annuals. If we fear that the area in which we live has an excessively cold climate in winter, we grow the verbenas in pots, and place them in a sheltered place during the cold season.
The autumnal division of the clumps often favors more vigorous and flower-rich plants the following springs, in addition to guaranteeing us new plants every year.
Verbena - Verbena x hybrida: Verbena officinale
Verbena officinalis is one of the species of European origin when Linnaeus described its name, appearance and properties, it indicated the plant with the name of verbena, which in the Latin world was used for sacred plants to the gods; verbena officinale has been used since ancient times for its curative properties, both in Europe and in North America, where it quickly became naturalized and was adopted in the traditional medicine of some ancient tribes.
This herb is widely used in homeopathy and herbal medicine, together with the similar Verbena hastata, thanks to its properties it is an excellent cough suppressant, pain reliever, anti-inflammatory; in herbal medicine they use decoctions and also the essential oil to produce healing creams.
It seems that in ancient times the verbena was used to favor the production of milk and also, in large doses, as an abortifacient.