Verbena Bonariensis

Jack1974Jack1974 Posts: 1

Hello Each,

I'm very new to gardening, and loving it. 

I've recently found Verbena Bonariensis, and have put 3 plants in my garden, each about 3 foot tall.

I've searched the internet on how to prune/dead head these, and there is very little.

I've found that I need to wait until the flowering finishes.

And I really struggle with getting my mind around the whole pruning aspect in general (especially where on a plants stem you cut?).

Would anyone kindly send a link on the above? I live in Hackney, London, and it is relatively warm here at the moment. The verbena still has flowers, so I won't do any cutting yet.

Many thanks in advance.



  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 19,692

    Hi Jack - don't worry - Verb. bon is quite accomodating, and should be no bother in your garden image

    Very little needs done to them, so you can simply remove the flowerheads when they finish. This can look a bit odd, so normally you take the whole stem that carries the flower, back down to the next 'joint' on the stem. It's a good idea to leave them like that over winter as it protects the plant if you get very cold spells, and then in late winter/early spring, you can tidy the plant up by removing any stems that look a bit rough or are dead. Again, just cut them off back to a joint on the stem. You can actually cut them right back at that point if you want, as they'll produce new growth from there. 

    Having said that - many people leave the flowerheads on and let them seed around, because they can sometimes die if the garden soil is very wet and heavy, or you get a long spell of sub zero temps. As you're very urban, and down south - that probably won't happen! image

    You could experiment and try pruning a few in different ways too.  It's often a good way to determine what suits your own conditions. Leaving some to seed can be good if you want to increase the number of plants, but it depends on the look you want to achieve, as they'll grow where the site suits rather than the place you want them.  You can also take cuttigns from them by using the bits you cut back in spring, but if that interests you, it's probably better to wait till then and come back and ask - we don't want to confuse you!

    Hope that's a little help for now. image

  • Bright starBright star Wrea GreenPosts: 477

    The VB will carry on flowering for some time yet and is a good source of late nectar for pollinators. I just prune back lightly during the growing season to just above the next set of visible leaves. Mine was over 6' last year so I took the top half off to reduce wind rock. When you see new growth in the spring is a good time to take cuttings. It self seeded all over the garden last year and my friends were really happy to have them.

  • B3B3 Posts: 4,994

    The small birds will go for the seeds if you leave them. It won't make any difference if you cut them after the birds have finished.  

    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • Good question Jack1974 - I've also got a couple of VBs for the first time and wanted advice on pruning etc.  From what I have been able to gather, the best time is in the Spring, for all the reasons mentioned.  

    What I would really like advice on, is how to look after them when they are in pots -mine are in my small courtyard garden, which is quite sheltered, but I'm still concerned about frost damage etc in Winter.  I'm in beautiful South Wales, where the weather is up and down like a Bride's nightie!! so I always have to prepare for the worst ......

    Any thoughts/advice anyone?

    Many thanks

  • WillDBWillDB Posts: 1,167

    I think they're fairly tough, but you could pull the pots up against a house wall if you're concerned (as much to keep the rain off as anything). Re pruning, I just cut them right down when they look unsightly, usually in October or November. Or during the growing season if I want them to branch more. I don't think I've ever seen the need to deadhead them - the flower heads just seem to go on and on. If you look closely you can see the new tiny flowers emerge in front of the old ones, in the same flower head.

  • Thanks for that Will - I move my Bay Trees against the walls too, so shall do the same with the VBs.  I haven't seen them flower yet as the supplier was really late in delivering them!!  But they have shot up, so I'm hopeful for next year image !

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 19,692

    I'm in central Scotland Welshr - and I have them in pots as well as a few in a border. They're tougher than many people think.

    In the border, other planting protects them quite well, and I have the pots against a wall for winter, although I sometimes forget about them and leave them in various parts of the garden. image

    They normally survive without any problem, regardless of the snow, rain, wind and anything else. I usually cut them back in spring and often use those bits as cuttings. 

  • Love it Fairygirl - if they can cope with your Scottish climate, I should be okay here - my biggest problem this year has been a massive invasion of snails and slugs, the latter of which are absolutely huge - easily the length of my hand - truly ghastly things, eating everything in sight ...

    Love the idea of taking cuttings - I'm a big fan of getting "free" plants image

  • Jumping in here, I have also grown them for the first time this year, and really pleased with the outcome.  I also wondered what to do with them once the flowers have finished.  I can see plenty of new side shoots now, and wondered whether I could try rooting them in a cold greenhouse  now to root over the winter - but perhaps I ought to wait until the Spring?  Some of my VB's are in the flower bed and others in large pots.

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 19,692

    They seem to be one plant that can shrug off slugs and snails Welshr. We have very large snails heer and they're nice and easy to get hold of and 'chuck'  out of the garden....image

    Useful plants to dot through other planting too - front, middle or back of borders, depending on the look you like. I sometimes leave them without cutting back at all - they just produce new growth from higher up, and become very tall. Others can get hacked back low down, so you could get a layered or tiered effect.

    It's good to experiment with them  image

    I grew mine from seed initially, and gave some away. I took cuttings from the bigger plants and found them very easy. A few round the edge of a five inch pot  of gritty compost, and stuck them out of the way. I might even do a few more next year, now that I've mentioned it  image

  • I bought a couple of plants last year - now I have a myriad of seedlings just about everywhere.  They don't seem to need much TLC - just a bit of spare soil and away they goimage  Had I realised how easily they seeded, I would have taken some seed heads from my neighbour's garden ( the nice neighbour Fairyimage ) and saved myself a few bob.  Lovely plants tho.

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 19,692
    philippa smith2 says:

    Had I realised how easily they seeded, I would have taken some seed heads from my neighbour's garden ( the nice neighbour Fairyimage ) 

    See original post


    I'm often astonished at the price of a pot of them in GCs. I rarely grow perennials from seed, but if I can grow those, anyone can!

  • Well thanks Fairy, you have given me the confidence to try a few cuttings but to wait until the Spring, I must say they seem to put up with the rain and wind so far (plenty of both at the moment), I am impressed with their hardiness so far.

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 19,692

    GD - I had no idea if they would work, or if it was the right time, or anything else - but it worked for me image

    If I take cuttings from perennials, I feel it works better if it's a warmer time of year, as it can give them a good chance of thriving and growing on, so it was possibly late April or early May that I did them  image

  • Well Folks, thanks for all this great feedback - I feel equipped to fill my courtyard and garden with VBs, plus have seedlings and cuttings left over for my lovely neighbours image

    This was my first time writing on the forum, and I will no doubt be back again with other queries - so hope we "chat" again.

    FYI, you may also be interested in another useful site The Sunday Gardener - good, basic, down to earth [please excuse the pun] information and advice.  Enjoy!

  • I have quite a number of VB scattered around the garden in various sizes! I like to leave the seed heads as we are inundated with Goldfinches and they love the seeds! They add winter interest in the garden too! I have one Verbena quite close to the house on the south side which is still flowering now - a truly versatile and gorgeous plant! 

  • I so agree Stormin - my mere two are still green, healthy and shooting up by the day- I had expected them to die right down by now !!  So, I am no longer fretting over them.

    However, at the risk of sounding like a "plant hypochondriac", I would value any advice/dialogue regarding Chocolate Cosmos - I only have one that survived the ferocious slugs last year, and it has been an absolute joy all Autumn.  I intend to purchase some more this year, so any information, beyond the standard, somewhat vague growers', please share ........

    And a very Happy Gardening New Year image

  • Bright starBright star Wrea GreenPosts: 477

    Happy new year!

    chocolate cosmos are tender perennials and many people treat them like Dahlias and lift and store over winter and replant when frosts have passed In the spring. You can now buy seeds for chocolate cosmos which is what I’ll be doing. They are beautiful flowers as are all the cosmos and real stars in my garden.

  • Oooh - I'll look out for the seeds.  From what you've said, I don't think my single plant will survive the winter.  I had planted a Star Jasmine in the same pot, before I realised the Cosmos had actually survived, by which time it was too late to move it !

  • Bright starBright star Wrea GreenPosts: 477

    You may be lucky but good to know that seed is now available as a backup. Expensive though, over £7 for 4 seeds!! Let’s hope they are reliable.

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