The summer of 1998, with its high daily temperatures, has been a test of many gardeners' perseverance. We watched as our flowering plants faded, wilted, and even died. With water restrictions or voluntary control of water use, our plants very likely didn't get as much water as we would have preferred.
Even so, some plants continued to flourish and for those we are very thankful. One such plant is Garden Verbena, available in a variety of colors that include red, pink, white and purple. This plant is usually perennial in this area and during a warm winter, such as last year, will continue to bloom year-round.
In my garden we have one group planted in a full-sun bed that borders a brick wall with a cement walk in front of it. The soil is not particularly good and the sprinklers aren't very efficient in that area. Under these circumstances, the verbenas bloomed constantly all summer, tumbling over the wall and providing a bright red color spot on even the hottest day. Only two plants have created this mound of color and our only regret is that we didn't plant more of them.
To see firsthand how various verbenas have done in our region, you may want to visit the Arboretum at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches. You will find demonstration plantings of the perennial verbena and can see for yourself which of the varieties have prospered this season.
Martin Davis, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas AgriLife Extension Service