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Try New Verbenas In Y2K Landscapes
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
2000 will prove to be a banner year for the world of verbenas with new series such as the Babylon, new colors such as the Tortuga Peach and new growth habits like those in the Temari Patio series. Each one deserves a place at your home.
Verbenas have come so far in recent years that gardeners consider them a staple in the mixed-flower garden. Specifically, I am referring to the perennial, vegetatively propagated verbenas, not their annual cousins.
We recently have seen award-winning varieties like Homestead Purple and Biloxi Blue used everywhere by homeowners and landscapers. Series like the Tapien have become equally popular and very useful with their ground-hugging growth habit.
The Tapien blue-violet and New Gold lantana are one of those combinations that allow you to go on vacation for a couple of weeks without fear for the flowerbed. Tapien lavender and pink also perform exceptionally well.
Temari verbenas came out a couple of years ago, and my first thought was they would never take our heat. Well, they did and have returned from our winters, too. The Temari Bright Red and Temari Hot Pink has been most welcome.
Before I get into the new varieties for 2000, I want to explain how to have success with any of these perennial types. Proper soil preparation comes first. Add 3 to 4 inches of organic matter and till it to a depth of 8 to 10 inches. While doing this, spread 2 pounds per 100 square feet of a slow release fertilizer like a 12-6-6, 8-8-8 or something fairly similar.
Provide full sunlight, water and you are well on your way to enjoying one of the prettiest groups of flowers available. But there is one more important aspect to happiness with verbenas. These are vigorous plants that spread exceptionally well. They bloom for weeks and weeks, and then get a little tired. They will still have a few blossoms, but nevertheless they look a little weak.
This is the time to cut them back, side-dress with a little fertilizer, and they will send out new runners and give more blooms. It is possible that you may need to do this twice in a long growing season, but that is how you have verbena blooms in spring, summer and fall. Leaving those long stems will promote problems and get where they look unsightly.
This spring looks awesome for those of us who are verbena lovers, butterflies included The Babylon series will make its debut and will be introduced by Proven Winners. Babylon looks to be an improvement over Tapiens in that more and larger flowers will be produced up in the center of the plant over the entire season. There will be about six colors in this group including neon and lavender.
Proven Winners also will be introducing the Temari Patio series. The original Temari verbenas have been spreading and vigorous. The Temari Patio vebenas will be more upright, compact and bushy. The colors in the Temari Patio group are electrifying in blue, pink, hot pink and rose.
Goldsmith will introduce the Tortuga series. In addition to some of the prettiest colors, Tortuga also comes with a unique market tool. You will get pot stakes in the shape of a turtle, which is the meaning of the name Tortuga.
Tortuga verbenas will be available in purple, white, red, hot pink, as well as my two favorites, peach and light pink. The light pink looks like apple blossoms with all shades of pink and white mixed together. The peach is actually shades of orange, peach and pastel mixed together. This color is as rare in the world of verbenas as a $3 bill.
Ball Flora plant will introduce the Wildfire series. They will have lavender, which is very similar to Biloxi Blue, Purple and Blush. They also will introduce the Aztec series that looks a lot like the Tapiens but a little more upright in habit.
Make this the year you include verbenas in your landscape!