Tall Verbena


AKA Purple Top Verbena, Brazilian Vervain or Tall Verbena

Scientific Name:  Verbena bonariensis

Light: Full sun to part shade

Zone: 7 to 11

Height:  2 to 4 feet

Width:  1.5 to 3 feet

Flowers: June to frost; Rose-violet, lavender


Fall Color:

Butterflies: On top 10 list for Maryland piedmont.  Verbena bonariensis attracts monarchs, commas, eastern tiger swallowtails, fritillaries, hairsteaks, painted ladies, red admirals, skippers, sulphurs, and more.


Hummingbird:  Yes

Deer Resistant:

Insects/Pollinators: Verbena bonariensis attracts bumble bees, honey bees, hummingbird moths , an more.

Native:  No.  native to Brazil and Argentina

Idea Garden:

Propagation:  Different resources give different directions for sowing.  We will update this website after we have experimented with both methods.

Note:  The tall verbena sold by the 4-H GOES fundraiser in 2019 was “primed” and should simply be started indoors between 2/15 & 3/15 with no special instructions – just like you would start tomatoes.

  1. Cold stratify for 4 weeks then germinate at 72F.  Darkness required for germination.
  2. Sow seed indoors between February 15th and March 15th in Carroll County.  Cover seed lightly with growing medium.  Seed is slow to germinate and sensitive to excess moisture, so keep growing medium on the dry side until emergence.  Place seed trays on a heat mat during the day and remove at night to ensure proper germination temperature.  Seeds should germinate in 14 to 28 days at 60 to 86 F alternating temperatures between 60°F  at night and 86°F  during the day helps to break dormancy. Transplant to cell packs or larger containers after true leaves appear. Harden off and transplant outside after Mother’s Day. Direct seed after Mother’s Day but plants will not start flowering until late August.  90 days to maturity.


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

Bring Home The Butterflies Vol. I: How to Attract More Monarchs to your Butterfly Garden…and Keep Them There! by Tony Gomez

Verbena bonariensis – North Carolina State Extension

Photo Credits

Nancy Bittler


Additional information




Part Sun, Sun


Dry, Loam

Flower Color


Flower Season

Fall, Summer

Wildlife Value

Beneficial Insects, Hummingbird, Nectar

Notable Features

Containers, Cut Flowers, Long Blooming

Local Availability



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