Bright lavender flower clusters floating on long, airy stems tempting passing butterflies to stop for a sip is just one reason to consider adding Verbena bonariensis, also called tall verbena or purpletop verbena, to your garden. The wiry stems wave in the breeze from mid-summer to frost. Since it is so thin, it is best planted in masses or columns, or else it will be overlooked.
The flowers are highly attractive to butterflies and other insects and a good substitute for buddleia which is considered invasive in Carroll County. Tall Verbena does self-seed and should be monitored as it has become invasive in the south.
Pinching the first few shoots of the young plants will encourage branching and create a more compact, shrub-like plant. Many however prefer to leave them in their natural, open form.
Cultivars / Varieties
Buenos Aires – 3 ft. Strong square stems, purple umbels. Drought tolerant. Stately habit, tough plant.
Finesse – 4 ft; Stately, tall blue rising spires, good cut flower.
Verbena bonariensis – Missouri Botanical Garden
Verbena bonariensis – Monarch Butterfly Garden
Tall Verbena – Fine Gardening
Specialty Cut Flowers by Armitage & Laushman
The Flower Farmer by Lynn Byczynski
Recommended for Wildlife by
Some Favorite Nectar Plants – Washington Area Butterfly Club
Butterfly Gardening in the DC Area – Washington Butterfly Club
For the Birds, Butterflies & Hummingbirds: Creating Inviting Habitats – Virginia Extension
Top Nectar Plants, Piedmont (Central Maryland) by North American Butterfly Association
Verbena bonariensis – North Carolina State Extension