on a deeply overcast day, the Little Ruby
alternanthera shows out in the landscape.
you love garden fragrance and non-stop bee and butterfly
activity, then the sweet almond verbena or tree verbena
is a must for your landscape. Those traits, coupled with
drought tolerance and ease of growing, were just some of
the reasons it was chosen as the Florida Plant of the
Year in 2008.
speaking it known as Aloysia virgata and is in the
verbena family. It is native to Argentina but is truly
at home in much of the United States. Despite the fact
the plant received the Plant-of-the-Year designation
after experiencing Florida winters, consider this: In
March ours, at the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens, in
Savannah, Ga., was just emerging with growth after
having been frozen to the ground. Today it is topping
out at 12 feet in height with an 8-foot spread just
outside my office. We are letting it grow to its true
potential, but you can choose to prune as desired.
glorious spikes of white blooms have been produced with
reckless abandon since early May and will continue well
into November. In late afternoon, when you are ready to
relax on the deck or patio, the fragrance intensifies,
making the experience one that the whole family will
treasure and remember.
is cold hardy from zone 7-10 and is grown like a woody
perennial in zones 7 and 8, where it almost always
freezes to the ground, and like a wood shrub or small
tree in zones 9-11. The sweet almond verbena, however,
has so much going for it that gardeners in colder
regions grow it as an annual or large container plant.
is quite at home in the back of the perennial or cottage
garden. My favorite use however would be the backyard
wildlife habitat or pollinator garden. With its nonstop
glistening white blooms, it attracts a near-unlimited
choice of companions. Add blue boa agastache, Little Red
Joe Pye weed, Golden lace patrinia and Chapel Hill
yellow lantana, and you would create a pollinator heaven
that would be tough, beautiful, and unsurpassed with
a well-drained site in full sun. Luxurious soil
fertility is not needed nor recommended. Dig the
planting hole two to three times as wide as the rootball,
but no deeper. This wide hole allows for easy root
expansion and acclimation in the landscape. The top of
the rootball should be even with the soil profile.
mentioned above, the sweet almond verbena is drought
tolerant, easy to grow and has virtually no pests or
diseases, making it an environmentally friendly plant.
It is fairly easy to find at garden centers and
countless reputable mail-order sites. Donít forget, a
four inch container version grows like it is rocket
you do your-shopping, keep your eyes open for another
great choice to put in your collection: the white-brush
known botanically as Aloysia gratissima. It is just as
intensely fragrant and flushes with blooms off and on
all summer. It is native to Texas, New Mexico and
Arizona and is about as tough a native shrub as there
is. Iíve seen it blooming in areas where your first
thought would be that plant life could not possibly
exist. When in bloom, however, the butterflies magically
appear for a feeding frenzy. It will be 3 to 10 feet in
height and is only cold-hardy in zones 8-10.
members of the verbena family have so many award-winning
traits: drought tolerance, fragrance, bees, butterflies,
hummingbirds and a beauty all their own. I hope you will
search them out.