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How to Grow: Veronica
Learn about growing Veronica perennial flowers including information on varieties.
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Veronica spp and hybrids
full sun, part sun
Bloom Period and Seasonal Color
Early to late summer in colors of white, blue, violet and pink
Mature Height x Spread
6 to 36 inches x 12 to 24 inches
attracts beneficials, attracts hummingbirds, deer resistant
Veronica is a standard cottage garden flower that is best known for its spires of blue, white or pink flowers that bloom for many months in summer. Many gardeners believe the blue varieties produce some of the truest blues of any flower in the perennial garden. But Veronica is more than just a traditional, spiky, English cottage garden perennial. Low growing varieties make excellent ground covers and some have cup-shaped flowers. Butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to all Veronica flowers and the blooms of tall varieties also make great cut flowers. The tall varieties of Veronica grow in clumps so are well-behaved in the flower garden, while ground covers will spread and fill in an area.
Where, When and How to Plant
Most varieties of Veronica are hardy throughout our region. Check the hardiness zone before planting your varieties. Purchase Veronica plants from a local garden center or receive divisions from a friend’s garden. Plant from spring to early fall in a full or part sun location on well-drained soil. Plants will be smaller and less floriferous when grown in part sun. Space plants 1 to 2 feet apart, depending on the size of the variety.
Keep young plants well watered. Once established, older plants are somewhat drought tolerant Veronica doesn’t need any special fertilization other than a light layer of compost in spring.
Regional Advice and Care
Deadhead spent blossoms to encourage more blooms and extend the flowering time. When deadheading, cut back the flower head to a side branch to create a sturdier stem to regrow that is less likely to flop over. Divide Veronica in spring every few years to rejuvenate the plants and to produce new plants to replant elsewhere or give away.
Cut back the plants to the ground in fall after a frost and compost the tops. Veronica can get powdery mildew disease if crowded or grown during humid summers. If powdery mildew is a problem, space plants further apart or spray with an organic fungicide such as Serenade.
Companion Planting and Design
Grow tall varieties of Veronica with other cottage garden plants, such as salvia, coreopsis and sedum. Grow creeping varieties in the front of a perennial flower border or in a rock garden to cascade over a wall.
For taller varieties, try “Sunny Border Blue” with its dark, violet-blue flowers and grows 20 inches tall. “Royal Candles” produces dark blue flowers on disease resistant plants. “White Icicles” is a white flowered, spiky variety. “Red Fox” has pink colored flowers. “Crater Lake Blue” is a creeping variety that grows less than 12 inches tall with spikes of cup-shaped, blue flowers. “Georgia Blue” is another creeping variety with cup-shaped flowers and white centers. “Georgia Blue” may need winter protection in colder parts of our region.
Excerpted from my book, New England Getting Started Garden Guide.
This common perennial flower is of two minds. One version is tall and tidy with beautiful white, blue or pink flowers. Another is a low growing, native ground cover with blue, rose or white flowers that actually can become a weed. The common name speedwell, literally means to thrive. We mostly know this perennial as Veronica.
Some of the wild Veronicas have used medically for centuries to treat a variety of ills. To add color to the perennial or rock garden, look for newer cultivars that feature large plants with colorful flowers. Tall varieties such as ‘Sunny Border Blue’, ‘Icicle’, and ‘Royal Candles’ are 1 to 2 foot tall plants with flower spikes that butterflies and bees love. ‘Crater Lake Blue’ is another tall type with saucer-shaped flowers instead of spikes. These pastel colored varieties pair well with mid summer blooming coreopsis, rudbeckia and daylilies. In contrast, the low growing versions of Veronica are found creeping in lawns, gardens and drainage ditches. Breeders have improved some of these wild types to create plants more suited to the perennial garden with bolder flowers for rock gardens and ground covers. ‘Waterperry’, ‘Tidal Pool’ and the yellow leafed ‘Aztec Gold’ all grow less than 6 inches tall with colorful flowers.
Veronicas are carefree. They grow best in full sun and need consistently moist, well-drained soil for good flowering. Prevent taller varieties from flopping with supports and deadhead regularly to stimulate new growth and flowers. Divide every few years to make new plants and keep ground cover types in bounds.