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On Gardening: 'Superbena' equals a super verbena

Norman Winter, Tribune News Service on

Published in Gardening News

Horticulturists like The Garden Guy sometime struggle with capturing the beauty of flowers in certain blues and those that are a deeply saturated, fire engine red. Put the two together and the camera may just have a technical explosion.

Such is the case this spring with three cameras, four lenses and two unbelievable verbenas: Superbena Red and Superbena Violet Ice. I actually planted them last year and they have tripled in size and beauty despite my total neglect. It's funny -- I used to preach giving perennials three years, and now they are reminding me. Every day I am mesmerized by their indescribable beauty.

While 2020 is the Year of the Lantana or "shrub verbena," I'll pose this question: When was the last time you tried true verbenas? Over the years The Garden Guy has participated is several terrific verbena trials and has loved them ever since. And Superbenas have become legendary in winning awards.

Most of the country can grow Superbenas as annuals, but those of us in Zone 8 and warmer may find this to be a dazzling perennial. You may be asking what can you do with a Superbena. The answer? Anything you want. You will have just added a new plant in your Monet arsenal of flowers.

You'll agree Proven Winners nailed it, as Superbenas are perfectly named. The flowers are huge, many times approaching tennis ball size. The plants are a vigorous 12 inches tall with a spread of 30 inches, and they were made to bloom. You'll find a dozen regular Superbenas and six selections under the Superbena Royale collection that are just a little more compact, spreading only 24 inches. I have finally got my hands on Superbena Royale Chambray, a rare blue that is a multiple award winner including Top Performer at the University of Georgia Trials, near where I live.

I am particularly fond of the red and all of the terrific blue variations and the new Superbena Whiteout that will garner immediate attention from all who pass by. Those who know me will be surprised to know The Garden Guy has now fallen for bicolored selections too, like Superbena Stormburst, and the Superbena Royale Cherryburst.

As neat as those are via their stripes you simply have got to see Superbena Sparkling Amethyst and Sparkling Rose, which are bicolored with two-toned florets at the same time. In other words, white to pink outside florets and deep rose-pink flowers in the center.

To find the most success for growth, select a site in full sun with well-drained soil. Wet, winter, soggy soil is the enemy that can prevent a spring return. Plant nursery-grown transplants this spring at the same depth they are growing in the container, spacing 12 to 18 inches apart. Water to get established, but then sparingly, as dictated by the weather.

The verbena responds to feeding every four to six weeks with a light application of a slow release fertilizer. Just as important as feeding is cutting back to rejuvenate vegetative growth and more blooms. This verbena rewards those who cut back.

 

Verbenas have undergone huge changes, making them some of the choice plants for the perennial, cottage or butterfly garden. By all means use them in your mixed containers, window boxes and hanging baskets too.

As fearful as I was about the virus impact on the world of gardening, it appears it has been positive. It seems everyone is gardening -- both kids and parents. Follow your local rules on getting out to the garden center. Most I know will gladly assist to minimize your risk.

If you are in a total lockdown, know that the green industry has perfected mail or online ordering and shipping of plants. Here's hoping you'll give Superbena verbenas a try. Grow several varieties, and if your neighbors don't thank you, the swallowtail butterflies will.

Follow me on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.

(Norman Winter, horticulturist, garden speaker and author of, "Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South" and "Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden." Follow him on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.)

(c)2020 Norman Winter

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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