Native to North America (selection)
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Verbena canadensis ‘Homestead Purple’ is a vigorous low growing perennial. Leaves have scalloped edges and are arranged on opposite sides of trailing stems. From spring until autumn, plants are clothed in elongated spikey clusters of tubular deep purple flowers. Pollinators flock to plants in sunny well drained or dry sites.
HABITAT & HARDINESS: Verbena canadensis ranges from New York to Iowa and Colorado and south to Florida and New Mexico. The species is most abundant from Kansas and Missouri south to Texas and Louisiana. Plants are indigenous to mesic to dry prairies, limestone and sandstone glades, thinly wooded bluffs, rocky open woods and dry disturbed roadsides and right of ways.
In the early 1980’s, University of Georgia horticulture professor Allen Armitage was cruising on a north Georgia highway when he spied a patch of purple verbena growing at a modest homestead. The homeowner gave him seven cuttings which he planted and evaluated in the UGA Trial Gardens.
Armitage named his selection ‘Homestead Purple’ and it soon became the best-selling verbena in the United States. ‘Homestead Purple’ is vigorous with a long season of bloom and showy royal purple flower color.
This cultivar is hardy from USDA Zones 6b-9.
PLANT DESCRIPTION: Verbena canadensis ‘Homestead Purple’ is a low spreading perennial with multiple sprawling pubescent stems. The stems root when they touch the ground – forming a coarse textured groundcover.
Leaves are lobed and deep green with scalloped or crenate edges. Blades are up to 4” long and are semi-evergreen through most of the range.
From spring until frost, plants produce an abundance of elongated royal purple spikey inflorescences. Each is about 3” long and is packed with ½” wide fragrant florets. The florets are about ¾” long and are tubular with 5 spreading lobes.
Each floret can produce four grayish-black nutlets.
Plants grow 6-12” tall with 2-3’ spread.
CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: Verbena canadensis ‘Homestead Purple’ thrives in sunny sites with average to dry well drained soil. Plants tolerate part sun, drought and shallow rocky, sandy, loamy or clay soils.
In northern parts of Zone 6 or in sites with wet winter soil, this cultivar is best treated as an annual and replanted each year.
‘Homestead Purple’ is fairly pest resistant. The bitter foliage is unpalatable to most herbivores.
Plants are vigorous - expanding in girth as stems root at the nodes. With age plants occasionally die out in the center and require pruning to stimulate new growth.
LANDSCAPE USES: ‘Homestead Purple’ is a good choice for a Mass, Groundcover, Rock Garden or the front edge or a Perennial Border. Plants are useful Butterfly Nectar Plants that provide valuable early season nectar. This verbena has Showy Blooms and is appropriate for Containers, Cottage Gardens, Deer Resistant Plantings, Low Maintenance Plantings and Meadows.
COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS: Try pairing Verbena canadensis ‘Homestead Purple’ with Aster oblongifolius ‘Raydon’s Favorite, Echinacea purpurea, Liatris pycnostachya, Monarda fistulosa, Rudbeckia grandiflora ‘Sundance’ or Schizachyrium scoparium.
Since Phlox subulata ‘Emerald Blue’ has a low spreading habit and similar cultural needs, it could be substituted in a pinch.
TRIVIA: The blooms of Verbena spp. attract long tongued bees, butterflies and skippers.
This cultivar is also known as Glandularia canadensis ‘Homestead Purple’.