Verbena rigida

Updated: Sep 19


Recently, I posted about Verbena bonariensis, a rigid, upright perennial that's character is more aligned with our subject today, V. rigida. The flowers, too, are so similar to the untrained eye that both can be further confused. Seeing them side by side, it is clear that they are different plants. Unlike V. bonariensis, this species is more casual, no more than two feet tall spreading up to four feet when in bloom. These distinctions between the two are why I enjoy using them in designs.


The first photo below was from an old commercial project where I spiraled up a mound dwarf boxwoods interspersed with V. rigida. As you can see, the verbena was very happy, engulfing the slow growing shrubs. Once blooming was finished, gardeners pruned them to contour with the boxwood hedge creating a green and purple spiral. A fun design in a large commercial courtyard using two easy plants to grow. Even Sunset suggests their use in low maintenance gardens (p. 646).



facts

Botanical Name: Verbena rigida

Verbena: Latin for sacred bough, however the reference may not be linked to the species we know today.

Rigida: Inflexible, stiff

Common Name: No common name

Family Name: Verbenaceae


Origin: South America


design considerations


Positioning: Foreground, drifts, slopes

Garden Themes: Mediterranean/dry, rock, coastal, courtyard/patio, meadow, pollinator, cottage

Uses: Border, mass, ground cover, accent, specimen, embankment cover, container


identifying characteristics


Type: Herbaceous perennial

Form: Mound, spreading, erect when in bloom

Texture: Fine

Size: 2' tall by 4' wide at full bloom


Outstanding Feature(s): Flower


Stem: Green, square, tomentose, may easily root at bud nodes

Leaf:

  • Type: Simple

  • Arrangement: Opposite with sessile attachment (no leaf stem)

  • Shape: Lanceolate

  • Margin: Serrate

  • Color: Dark green

  • Surface: Scabrous above, tomentose underneath

Flower: Summer to Autumn. Cylendrical cluster of spiked, tiny, tubular, purple flowers. Showy.

Fruit: Autumn to Winter. 4 one-seeded segment mericarps (nutlets) with the potential to readily reseed.


cultural requirements, tolerances & problems


Sunset Zones: 3-24

USDA Zones: 7-10


Light: Sun

WUCOLS SF Bay Area Hydro Zone: Low

Soil:

  • Texture: Sand, silty loam, clay, rocky, chalk

  • Moisture Retention: Well-drained but performs better with moisture without extended dry periods

  • pH: Slightly acidic to neutral

Tolerances: Drought, deer

Problems: Reseeding, may be invasive

  • Branch Strength: N/A

  • Insects: White flies

  • Disease: Powdery mildew


citations & attributions


Bayton, R. (2019). The Royal Horticultural Society's the Gardener's Botanical: An Encyclopedia of Latin Plant Names. London: Mitchell Beazley.


Extension Gardener. "Verbena rigida." North Carolina State University, Raleigh. Accessed on September 17, 2021, from https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/verbena-rigida/.


Invasive Species Specialist Group. "Verbena rigida (herb)." International Union of Conservation of Nature, Species Survival Commission, Gland. Accessed on September 17, 2021, from http://issg.org/database/species/ecology.asp?si=1371&fr=1&sts=&%20ang=EN&ver=print&prtflag=false.


Norris Brenzel, K. (Ed.). (2012). The New Sunset Western Garden Book. New York: Time Home Entertainment, Inc.


Water Use Classification of Landscape Species. "WUCOLS IV Plant List." University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Davis. Accessed on September 7, 2021.

https://ucanr.edu/sites/WUCOLS/Download_WUCOLS_IV_List/.


Photos:

2 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All