Red is a color that evokes excitement and passion, so 2007 should stir a frenzy in the gardening soul of any verbena lover. Four new red verbenas are making their debut this spring, and all of them are vegetatively propagated, or not grown from seed.
Fuego is a relatively new series coming from a company called Selecta First Class. The new Fuego orange red verbena is as hot and fiery looking as a European sports car.
The Fuego is great in mixed containers or the landscape. There are seven colors in the Fuego series.
Tukana scarlet verbena is more spreading and vigorous than the Fuego, but it has some of the same orange hues. There are five colors in the Tukana series.
I have seen great patriotic displays using this one in combination with the new white selection of cleome called Spirit Frost and the spiky textured Angel Face Wedgwood Blue angelonia. All three of these are coming from Proven Winners.
Magalena Ultra Scarlet verbena comes in the same hue. It is also vigorous and spreading but lower growing than the Tukana. It is the perfect complement to yellow flowers for a sizzling landscape and is well suited for use in mixed containers. The Magelana is available in more than a dozen colors and is coming from S & G Flowers.
The Aztec Cherry Red verbena is a true, saturated red with no orange overtones. It might remind you of the red in our flag. For this reason, it too is perfect for a patriotic display combined with Mystic Spires Blue salvia and Abunda Giant White Bacopa.
There are 14 colors in the Aztec series that is coming from Ball FloraPlant. The Aztec series reaches about 10 to 12 inches tall spreading to 18 inches. All of these verbenas are great for the back yard wildlife habitat in that butterflies and hummingbirds find them delectable and deer usually avoid them.
Your happiness with any verbenas will depend on proper soil preparation. 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 and water, and you are well on your way to enjoying one of the prettiest groups of flowers available.
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. 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.
Try some of these new red verbenas this year, and you'll get passionate on gardening again.
By Norman Winter, MSU Horticulturist Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center