Plant of the month - a verbena by another name

Gorgeous purple flowers over a long period mean that this tender gem is well worth growing

Verbenas are a diverse group of plants – from tall species to low-growing varieties – and many of them look at their best through high summer. Some of the species and varieties of Verbena have recently been re-classified into a genus called Glandularia and this month’s plant of the month is one of these.

Glandularia 'Homestead Purple'Glandularia ‘Homestead Purple’ is a tender perennial which means it will not normally survive outside through the winter. All the tender perennials at RHS Garden Hyde Hall are planted out in late May and early June and will give colour right through until the end of the season in late October. Tender perennials by their nature would survive year after year as an herbaceous perennial does, but they originate from warmer climes such as South America and they don’t survive our colder winters.

'Homestead Purple' is a great plant to use in the garden as it is low growing and mat forming, reaching about 30cm high and 40cm across (12in x 16in) meaning it can be used at the front of borders as infill, but it can also be used in containers, window boxes and hanging baskets where it will fill in around the edges and gently trail over the sides. The dark green, slightly wrinkly leaves of this particular selection is grown for its very dark purple flowers which provide an intense burst of colour throughout the summer.
 

Glandularia 'Homestead Purple' with Stipa and VerbenaGarden uses

At RHS Garden Hyde Hall it can be found in places such as the Herbaceous Border where it is used alongside other purple, mauve and lilac flowered plants such as Limonium platyphyllum ‘Violetta’ and Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’. It could also be used in the Farmhouse Garden where it would fit well with the purple and orange colour scheme among plants such as Potentilla ‘William Rollinson’ with its orange flowers and Sedum ‘Vera Jameson’ with its rich purple foliage.

We also use Glandularia in some of our summer container plantings and this year it looks fabulous alongside Verbena officinalis var. grandiflora ‘Bampton’ with its lilac flowers and dark purple foliage, as well as Mexican feather grass (Stipa tenuissima) and a white-flowered zinnia (see photo).

Glandularia is easy to grow and likes a sunny well-drained spot where the soil is humus-rich. Regular dead-heading through the summer will ensure it continues flowering until the end of the season. If you would like to grow this plant year after year you will need to take cuttings from it. We usually take semi-ripe cuttings in late August which are rooted in cell trays and then potted up in late winter and kept in a heated polytunnel. Then they are planted out in May to produce another season of glorious colour.

 

Useful links

How to get tender perennials through the winter

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