Verbena bonariensis

Published On: January 18th, 2024

Verbena bonariensis is one of my all-time favorite annuals! It is graceful and subtly elegant, combines well with perennials, and is outstanding for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds. And….it has historically been almost impossible for gardeners to locate at retail garden centers.  So, we are very excited to offer this excellent plant for sale in 2024!

Verbena bonariensis is outstanding for attracting butterflies

Verbena bonariensis is outstanding for attracting butterflies

Verbena bonariensis produces lollipop-like clusters of nectar-rich violet-purple flowers atop sturdy, stiff stems all summer long. Due to its height and nearly leaf-less stems it is almost transparent in the garden, where the flowers will appear to float above those of its neighbors. It combines especially well with meadow-like or cottage garden perennials such as coneflowers, Beebalm , Phlox, Liatris, Allium, Heliopsis, and ornamental grasses. It is comparable to Butterfly Bush (Buddleia) in its tremendous appeal to butterflies and will fill the same role in your garden at a fraction of the price.


The sturdy stems of this Verbena make it a fine cut flower, where its stiff stems will keep it upright in floral arrangements. It can be grown in the cutting garden as well as the perennial border.

While it is not winter hardy in our climatic zone, it will self-seed generously if allowed to go to seed over open ground. In my opinion it is never problematic as unwanted seedlings can easily be hoed up or dug to share with friends or neighbors.


In the garden this Verbena is very drought tolerant. However, in pots it requires copious amounts of water due to its fast growth rate and large size. This is what makes it challenging from a retail garden center standpoint, and why it is so seldom offered for sale. We are going to overcome that obstacle by offering Verbena bonariensis in standard 4.5” pots early in the season but also growing some of our crop in larger gallon containers that will make it easier to maintain them as the season progresses.


Verbena bonariensis Meteor Shower®

Due to its height Verbena bonariensis is best suited to growing in the garden itself, rather than in containers. If you desire a shorter, stockier version that is better suited to container culture the answer is Verbena bonariensis Meteor Shower®, a Proven Winners selection that is also sterile so will not self-seed.


Verbena bonariensis in a Nutshell:

  • Mature height: 3’-5’
  • Mature spread: 1’-3’
  • Light requirement: Full sun to light shade
  • Growth form: Stiffly upright, with flower globes held atop tall, sturdy, almost leaf-less stems
  • Flowers: Clusters of violet-purple flowers all summer, until hard frost. The flowers are exceptionally attractive to a wide range of pollinators, including butterflies and hummingbirds. One of the very best flowers for attracting butterflies!
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: Zone 7 (grown as a self-seeding annual here in Wisconsin)
  • Especially valuable for:
    • Attracting pollinators all summer, notably butterflies & hummingbirds
    • Cottage gardens
    • Interplanting with perennials
    • Deer resistance

Whatever your garden situation, I strongly urge you to give Verbena bonariensis a try. I am confident that you will not be disappointed!