Purpletop verbena

Verbena bonariensis, also called purpletop verbena, is a slender, airy-stemmed perennial that can grow to 6 feet tall and can spread to 3 feet wide. It blooms from mid-summer until fall frost with clusters of small, fragrant lavender to rose-purple flowers that tempt butterflies.

A home landscape or garden can almost never have too many perennials. Residents will appreciate their many colors and shapes for years to come. 

Fall - just like spring - is a good time to plant them. A sunny fall day is the perfect time to get started.

Warm soil

Most of the perennials people buy come in cultivation pots. These plants can go into a garden all year round, but fall is one of the best times because the soil is still warm, encouraging some growth. Since the plants will grow roots before the winter months, they will develop quickly in the spring.

Some perennials are also available as “bare root” plants instead of those sold in pots. These should be planted while still dormant: from November to March. Neither, however, should be planted during freezing weather or extreme drought.

Which plant to choose

When selecting them, be sure to buy plants suited to both your preferences and garden conditions. Many perennials are true sun-worshippers, while others prefer full or partial shade. Also consider their various benefits: some are evergreen, some attract bees and butterflies, and some make great groundcovers. Visit perennialpower.eu to learn more.

Getting started

Without damaging the plant, remove it from its cultivation pot. Use a trowel to dig a generously sized planting hole (twice as big as the root ball). Then loosen the soil in the bottom of the hole.

Add enough compost to ensure the plant will be just a little deeper (1/2 inch or so) below the surface than it was in the cultivation pot.

Put the plant in the hole and fill with the excavated garden soil and tamp the soil gently. Water the plant immediately after planting and as needed, depending on the weather.

Interesting facts

Perennials make perfect companions for flower bulbs. Both can be planted in the fall and will complement each other beautifully in a border.

Some perennials, called border fillers, can airily weave their way through various areas in a border. Masterwort (Astrantia) and Purpletop Vervain (Verbena) are perfect examples.

Find plants and garden supplies at local stores. Here are two:

• Orchard’s Nursery, 10521 SR 532, Stanwood.

• Camano Ace Hardware, 370 NE Camano Drive, Camano Island.

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