Image by Sienna Mae Heath

Verbena vs. Scaevola: Two Trailing Beauties

by Sienna Mae Heath July 12, 2017

Verbena vs. Scaevola: Two Trailing Beauties

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Powered by a creative spirit and a practical mind, Sienna Mae Heath specializes in garden blogging and feature story writing. She spends time cultivating vegetable plants and perennial flowers in her backyard. Nowadays, she’s writing from home and frolicking in her wildflower-fennel patch. A poet at heart, she believes a natural footprint paves the way for a fulfilling life journey.


Verbena and scaevola are often paired together at garden nurseries. When you’re shopping for summer annuals, likely you consider a thriller, filler and spiller. For the latter, verbena is popular for its bold round clusters; however there’s also beauty in scaevola’s delicate fanned flowers.

The similarities between these two nectar rich spillers

Verbena

Both have a trailing habit, ideal for urns and window boxes. Pouring with petunias and geraniums, these spillers fill out any container. Be sure to deadhead spent blooms – verbena can cut back one fourth of its length.

Average watering is necessary, considering they are drought tolerant and in fact thrive in the hot sun. They do best when forced not to dry. Water when the soil feels a little dry to the touch.

These nectar rich spillers attract butterflies to their blooms and deter deer. While they are favored in containers, they can be used as groundcovers too.

To spread the vines around the rest of your garden, propagate cuttings.

The differences between ‘Enchanter’s Plant’ and ‘Down Under Dainties’

Verbena blooms in many colors:  orange, pink, purple, red, white, yellow and variegated. Scaevola, on the other hand, only comes in three colors: blue, pink and white.

Verbena prefers poor soil but can use some compost organic material to improve drainage. Scaevola performs best in a commercial potting mix.

Scaevola

Scaevola is also called the “rayed” or “fanned” flower, in light of its blossoms resembling the rays of the sun or a flat fan. In Latin, Scaevola means “left-handed”, symbolizing its one-sided blooms. Verbena means a “leafy branch used ceremoniously or medicinally” in Latin; “enchanter’s plant” is another common nickname. Beloved in homeopathy, verbena officinalis cures nearly 30 health issues.

Verbena thrives in either part sun or full sun; scaevola insists on full sun. A native to the Americas and Asia, verbena is hardy in zones 7-11. Scaevola, nicknamed Down Under Dainties, is native to Australia and hardy in zones 9-11.

Planter arrangements in my garden

Window box

I’m easily swayed by spillers, which suit the large concrete urn in my front yard and the 50-inch wide window box hanging off my kitchen window. When met with trays of verbena and scaevola on my flower shopping adventures, I couldn’t resist either of them. I’m familiar with verbena’s need for deadheading, and always found it worth the lush vining blooms.

This is the first time I’m welcoming scaevola in my garden. I think it has a classier, old-world feel compared to verbena. I prefer pairing scaevola with the European geranium – and verbena with the modern, American petunia.

Urn

Although I ended up combining the old with the new in my urn. Proven Winners – Supertunia Vista Fuchsia Petunias (which don’t need deadheading!) intermingle with a white geranium, a hot pink Martha Washington geranium, a dark purple double petunia, purple scaevola, purple-white verbena, and a bi-colored ivy.

While I walked in to every nursery with a list this year, I bought about 8 different varieties for my window box. (I just can’t resist the summer sales!) It’s a little busy, but my favorite annuals keep me in company in the kitchen.

A spike is surrounded by purple scaevola, icy purple wave petunias, and double petunias in rose pink and dark purple. Then the same Supertunias camouflage the African Daisies’ scrawny foliage. The sides pour out with dark green ivy and purple sweet potato vines, which pick up on the little purple eyes in the Lemon Symphony African daisy variety.

Window Box Close-Up

In both planter arrangements, the scaevola and verbena offer cool purple color among vibrant pinks. I enjoy welcoming many varieties into my small garden, and encourage you to do the same!

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