I have seen this plant a few times in cottage gardens. It is tall (about 3ft) with square stems and mauve flowers. Does anyone know what it is please?
I would have said that it looks like the very popular Verbena bonariensis.
And verbena does have a distinctive ridged square stem.
But verbena normally grows a lot taller than 3 feet, more like 5 or 6 feet, so perhaps this might be something else
I would agree Verbena bonariensis, a lot of my self seeded ones have only got to 3 feet this year, they did not like the freezing June.
It sounds right with the ridged square stem, I was standing a distance from it as couldn't get near so maybe it was taller although I doubt it was 6 foot - possibly 5?
Yes, five is about right. That's what mine are like.
I'm not sure how well they hold themselves up. Those stems are quite strong. The square stem profile helps to make the stem strong, like an iron girder. But if they do snap or blow over that's a pity, so I stake mine, just in case.
They're quite popular with bees and butterflies too (but not as popular as buddlea).
Thank you. I have now ordered some seeds as I think they are perfect for a cottage garden. Will take on board your info re staking stems. When is the best time to plant the seeds?
I actually sowed mine in Spring, a few years ago. I can't remember whether they flowered the first year.
The T&M seed catalogue does advertise verbena as first-year flowering perennials. That's reasonable because they do flower late in the year (now).
The T&M seed catalogue (2012 season) has an unusual footnote, just beneath verbena, saying that verbena seed is only despatched between March and May.
In nature, and this is probably true of self-sown seedlings, the seeds fall to the ground when the flowers have bloomed and the seed has ripened. I'm not sure exactly when that happens. Maybe in a few weeks time, or perhaps the seed stays on the plant through the Winter. They are flowering now, so this year's seed is obviously not ripe yet.
Thanks for that Gary. Will watch the local plants and see when they drop and sow accordingly.
I never did the fridge thing with my original batch I have lots of small seedlings appearing now, so they would not be from fresh seed, I am now curious why they only despatch over such a short period.
Just go along to someone who has them in the garden in August/September and they will be happy to give you some of the hundreds of self sown plants. I thin them out to avoid being swamped.......