The Argentine verbena is a very popular perennial due to its long stems and delicate flowers. On top of that, it is still very easy to care for.© jaboo_foto - Fotolia.com
The Argentine verbena is also known as the Patagonian verbena and under its Latin name as Verbena bonariensis. This name already signals that this is a plant from the Verbenaceae family. The verbena family includes a wide variety of plant types, some of which are used not only as bedding and as decorative balcony plants, but also as medicinal plants or as pretty cut flowers. All interested amateur gardeners can find out in detail below what the Argentinian verbena is all about.
Profile of the Argentine verbena
Verbena is particularly widespread in Argentina, which explains the name of the plant accordingly. The herbaceous plant of several years is characterized by a loosely bushy and clump-forming growth. It grows to a height of 80 to 100 centimeters and blooms only from late summer, but until late in the fall. From July to October, the herb also attracts attention with a width of a good 35 to 40 centimeters. With its purple-violet flowers, the plant is mainly used in the ornamental garden. This moderately frost-hardy herb plant can also be planted in perennial gardens. Even as a cut flower, the Argentine verbena has a certain charm. The plant is also frequently found on bee and insect pastures.
The genus of verbena also includes a good 250 other species. The summer permanent bloomers can be used in many ways as potted plants or ground cover, which also applies in part to the Argentine verbena, which is known under the other trivial names "wish herb", "dove herb" and as "cat blood herb". Many hobby gardeners use this plant in their garden mainly for decorative reasons. But the Argentine verbena can also attract attention with its beguiling scent.
Since this verbena variety is extremely popular with many hobby gardeners, new, significantly smaller cultivars have now been added. The Lollipop variety is known, for example, as the Little Patagonian Verbena. Because it only grows to a height of 60 centimeters and is therefore much more compact and smaller than the regular Argentine verbena. The Lollipop variety can also be wonderfully planted in the front rows of a bed. The cloud verbena is also a subspecies with a noticeably more compact habit, which can therefore be planted very versatile in your own garden. The plant also branches heavily and, with its somewhat larger and therefore more impressive flowers, can draw everyone's attention.
The perfect location for the Argentine verbena
Argentinian verbena appreciates sunny and even full sun places as a perfect location in the garden. Certain requirements must also be met with regard to soil quality so that the herb can thrive splendidly. These are as follows:
- sandy soil
- highly permeable soil
- fresh soils that are not too dry
A normal garden soil, which may be a bit humorous, meets the requirements of the plant very well. Even a slightly acidic soil doesn't matter to the crop. As long as waterlogging can be avoided, the soil may still be slightly damp. Argentinian verbena does not get too much dryness in the long run. In addition, the perfect location for the herb should be protected from the wind as much as possible.
❍ in the bucket:
If you want to use the Argentine verbena in a planter, you can use the so-called uniform earth from specialist retailers. You can also upgrade a very sandy soil as well as a soil with a high clay or clay content with appropriate care so that the Argentine verbena can grow there without any problems. For example, you should enrich a light sandy soil with garden compost or other organic materials in order to achieve the required soil quality. Heavy clay or loam soils can be broken up with grit, sand or other fine-grained materials. You should simply undermine these in order to achieve the correct soil conditions for the Argentine verbena.
How to plant argentinian verbena properly
The plant should only be planted outdoors from mid-May, i.e. after the ice saints, because its frost does not get particularly well. The best way to plant it is as follows:
- Place the root ball in a bucket full of water so that it can absorb water.
- Then remove stones, roots and weeds from the planting site.
- Now loosen the soil properly (use a rake).
- Carry out soil improvement measures as described (only if necessary).
- Now dig a planting hole that is twice the size of the root ball in both directions.
- Now enrich the bottom of the planting hole with horn meal, compost, whole fertilizer or horn shavings.
- To avoid waterlogging, introduce fine-grained material into the planting hole as a drainage layer.
- Close the planting hole with soil and press the substrate lightly by hand.
- Then water plants sufficiently.
When planting, the location and the available space determine the number of plants that can be placed next to each other at the correct planting distance. Three to five plants together make up a very nice picture. 50 specimens of the Argentine verbena can also look very impressive. With a hanging traffic light, however, there is usually no more space than for two or three of these plants. The ideal planting distance is generally around 30 to 40 centimeters on both sides.
Which neighboring plants are suitable for the Argentine verbena?
In addition to the following plants, the Argentinian verbena is particularly useful in the garden bed:
- various tall grasses
Weak-growing and very low-growing plants, on the other hand, do not go so well with Argentine verbena. Because the herb would simply overgrow them and at the same time ensure that the surrounding plants cannot thrive so well. On the other hand, the situation is different with the newer, low-growing varieties of verbena, which also tolerate planting neighbors that are not quite as high. Or the Argentinian verbena is simply planted in a large network, whereby only three to four of these plants fit on one square meter.
How to properly care for the Argentine verbena
Argentine verbena doesn't like too much drought. Therefore, you need to water the herb sufficiently, which should be done especially in the morning. Especially since the plant loves a sunny location, verbena is a very thirsty plant. The more regularly and abundantly you water the herb without causing waterlogging, the more the plant grows and the more flowers the Argentine verbena can form.
It is important to remember that the water requirement of plants that are kept in a balcony box or in a tub on the terrace is higher than that of bedding plants. So they have to be watered more often and also better in the morning or evening hours and not in the blazing sun.
The Argentine verbena is not only very thirsty, but also requires sufficient nutrients in the form of fertilizer. You should fertilize the herb at least once a month, but better every two weeks. Also with the correct fertilization of the Argentine verbena, the herb can show a higher nutrient requirement if it was planted in planters. As a container plant, the Argentinian verbena should therefore be supplied with a suitable liquid fertilizer from specialist shops once a week. For bedding plants, an organic-mineral fertilizer mix is just as suitable as full fertilizer.
❍ Remove faded food regularly:
It is not only correct watering and fertilizing that ensures that the plant can thrive during the growth phase of the Argentine verbena. Rather, it makes sense to clean all the withered leaves and flowers every few days. Because then the plant will soon shine again in its full shine. But please leave the stems standing so that the plant does not lose its stability!
❍ Cut back:
With the Argentine verbena, the long, very thin stems interlock thanks to their small hairs. If these stems were now cut back, the plant would become unstable in view of its stature height of a remarkable 1.5 meters, so that a pruning can be largely avoided. This should only take place in November in preparation for the upcoming wintering. Then it is best to shorten the herb to a height of five to a good ten centimeters above the ground.
If the plant is wintered correctly, you can enjoy the Argentinian verbena for up to three years in a row. It is important to cut the plant back just above the ground after it has faded in autumn. A sufficiently thick layer of brushwood, straw or leaves also serves as frost protection.
If you have placed the herb in a planter, this tub should be kept in a bright and frost-free room during the winter. If this is not possible, the pot should be placed at least in a protected corner and additionally wrapped in foil as protection. Frost from below doesn't stand a chance by using a block of wood or polystyrene. The plants do not need to be fertilized during the winter. However, they must not dry out completely, so that small amounts of water are required from time to time.
This is how the Argentine verbena can be propagated© axz65 - Fotolia.com
Argentine verbena can not only be propagated through self-sowing and sowing. Rather, cuttings can also be used in the propagation. Self-sowing works through the formation of so-called Klaus fruit. If these fruits burst, the seeds of the herb are distributed in the vicinity. The wind, the animals in the garden and the hobby gardener with his shoes all contribute to the distribution of the seeds in the garden. However, the Argentine verbena does not reproduce by type in this way.
If a true variety is important, you should rather use seeds from the specialist trade. You should know that the Argentine verbena is a so-called cold germ. This means that the seeds do not germinate in autumn as they would not be hardy anyway. During the winter, the seeds take a kind of hibernation, which is also known as dormancy. It therefore makes a lot of sense to sow the seeds best in February or March. Proceed as follows:
- Spread germs on absorbent, damp paper.
- The germination phase lasts about two to four weeks.
- Now cover the seeds with foil, provided normal room temperatures prevail.
- Then roll up the paper with the seeds and put it in the fridge for four to six weeks.
- The seeds need a cold stimulus to thrive. The refrigerator provides this stimulus at an operating temperature of zero to a maximum of four degrees Celsius.
- Do not let the seeds dry out in the room or in the refrigerator during germination.
- When the first seedlings emerge, you can plant them in a pot. Use growing medium that is as nutritious as possible.
- Then place the pot in a place where the temperature is no more than twelve degrees Celsius. The location should also be as bright as possible.
Argentinian verbena now forms its first leaves relatively quickly. However, it usually takes until mid-May until the root system of the plants has developed to such an extent that they can be planted in the bed. Planting in a planter, such as in a bucket, is now also possible using conventional substrates of the soil quality already described. You have to make sure that you get used to the Argentine verbena step by step to the warmer temperatures so that the plant does not die.
If you don't want to propagate the Argentinian verbena in the fridge, you can also sow the seeds in the cold frame or in a special seed bowl. However, this should already be done in autumn, outdoors, so that nature can provide the urgently needed cold stimulus. This method also means less work, since you only have to make sure that you transplant the young plants into their own growing pots at the right time. It also makes sense if you cut the tips of the young plants from a height of eight to ten centimeters. Because then the herb grows particularly bushy.
Cut the Argentine verbena as a cut flower
As already mentioned, verbena is also very popular as a cut flower. If you want to decorate your living room with this cut flower, the best way to cut the plant is as follows:
- If possible, cut the plant fresh in the early morning.
- Cut only the parts where the buds have not yet opened.
- Remove the bottom leaves.
- Cut the stems of the Argentine verbena diagonally.
- Add warm water and some sugar to the verbena in the flower vase.
- Make sure that the rest of the plant does not become too unstable when cut off.
Detect and combat pests and diseases on the Argentine verbena
In general, the Argentine verbena is a very robust plant for which pests are rarely a problem. If the soil is too shady or too humid, fungus and mildew can occur. Therefore, please pay attention to the suitable location for the Argentine verbena. There are also varieties of verbena that have been proven to be resistant to mildew. So it can make sense if you decide to buy one of these varieties straight away.