Verbena bonariensis is a standout

Out of all the summer-blooming perennials in our garden, one is consistently towards the top of my list of favorites: Verbena bonariensis, commonly know as tall verbena, purpletop verbena or purpletop vervain.

This South American native has lantana-liked flower heads on top of tall stems equipped with sparse narrow leaves.


This produces a fluid, airy effect and makes Verbena bonariensis perfect for mixed borders where it can weave in and out of plants next to it.

I have Verbena bonariensis planted inside and outside the 4-ft. fence that surrounds our front yard. It’s tall enough to peek over the fence without blocking our view.



Outside the fence, some stems have become intertwined with our Leucadendron ‘Safari Sunset’ so it looks like the flowers belong to the leucadendron.



I also love the way Verbena bonariensis contrasts with the inflorescences of our Karley Rose grass (Pennisetum orientale ‘Karley Rose’)



The flowers of Verbena bonariensis are irresistible to bees and butterflies.



Verbena bonariensis is hardy to zone 7. Some sources say it reseeds heavily but that’s not the case in our garden. I put two plants in the ground a number of years ago and I still only have two. I I wish it would reseed just a little bit because I’d love to have babies!


  1. I added Verbena bonariensis this year due to posts like yours. This post has cleared up any concerns I might have about it getting out of control. I'm pretty sure our hot, dry summers will keep it in check. Oh, and the butterflies have been all over it here too.

    1. I'm happy to see Verbena bonariensis in more and more gardens. I was at a local nursery a few weeks ago, and a nursery employee actually recommended it! I told him how glad I was that he was putting in a good word for such a hard-working--and beautiful--perennial.

  2. I've actually considered planting this one because I love the strong branched stems holding the flower clusters.

  3. We ought to add this one in our garden (year after year we say that but actually never get to do it). Love the height and airy look of this plant.

    1. You definitely should! It's a fast grower in warm weather. In fact, it seems to love the heat, which is a definite plus in our climate.

  4. I also love this wonderful plant and it reseeds politely for me. Seedlings are easily moved or pulled up but since it mingles so nicely with everything and doesn't cast shade, why not have a purple haze of Verbena bonariensis over everything?

    1. A purple haze, that's the perfect description! That's exactly the effect I want.

  5. I planted this from seed 4 or 5 years ago in my z6 (St. Louis) garden, and it has both reseeded gently and overwintered for me. I will never remove this plant, as its flowers are some of my favorites! It gets powdery mildew some years here, and sometimes it gets eaten (by deer I presume) but otherwise care-free.

    I love it mixed with grasses, although it rarely grows like that for me.

    1. I'm glad to hear that it's even hardier than what MOBOT says. I'll plant some at my in-laws in the mountains of Northern California.

      I still wonder why it hasn't reseeded here. Maybe because of our summer heat? But it gets hot in St Louis, too...


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