Do you recall when verbena was just a seed annual available in bedding plant packs and flats? Today, they are one of the most essential vegetative annuals for hanging baskets, patio planters and vigorously filling out beds with carpets of color.
The first really popular vegetatively propagated verbena was 'Homestead Purple,' a canadensis type introduced by Allan Armitage at the University of Georgia (UGA) in the late 1980s. "Before 'Homestead Purple,' most of the verbenas were seed propagated and treated as commodity bedding plants," he says. "They were OK, but certainly the verbena market was not growing. There were a few vegetative forms out there, but they were weak and had little vigor."
The first two significant vegetative verbena series were introduced by Japanese flower breeder Suntory Flowers about 20 years ago – Tapien and Temari. For verbena, breeding priorities are mildew resistance, the ability for new flowers to overgrow old flowers, and heat and humidity tolerance
The Tapien series is a groundcover type that produces a carpet of blooms from April through November. One plant can carpet an area up to 3 feet wide and crowd out weeds. Constantly in bloom, Tapiens hold up in heat, humidity, and light frosts and thrive where other verbenas fail. Vigorous plants are versatile for pots, baskets, window boxes, and landscapes. Learn how to plant and use Tapien verbenas in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=5zmaSc3n3xE
Tapiens continue to be refined and are available in five colors: Blue-Violet, Lilac, Pink, Purple, and Salmon. “Tapien Blue-Violet is probably the number one verbena in the California market,” says grower Danny Takao of Takao Nursery in Fresno, Calif. “With low disease issues, Tapien verbenas have become the mainstay in the landscape. In warmer areas, they continue to flower throughout the year.”
Twenty years later, Temari verbenas still hold their own against the competition in university trial gardens throughout the United States and Canada. Just last summer, Temari Blue, Cherry Red, Patio Hot Pink, and Patio Blue were all Prairie Star Winners at Kansas State University. ‘Temari Cherry Red’ was also recognized as one of the Top 15 plants overall at University of Guelph’s trials in Canada. Try these top performers in your garden this spring and summer!
About the author: Delilah Onofrey is director of Flower Power Marketing and supports Suntory Flowers' marketing efforts in North America. For 18 years she was an editor with Greenhouse Grower magazine, serving commercial flower growers.
Posted April 13, 2013
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