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Verbena rigida

Updated: Nov 22, 2021

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).

Proven Winners is well-known in the industry for their introductions, and here are two cultivars of V. rigida. The presenter includes general information about the species.



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


  • 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


  • 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

Invasive Species Specialist Group. "Verbena rigida (herb)." International Union of Conservation of Nature, Species Survival Commission, Gland. Accessed on September 17, 2021, from

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.


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