I’m a great fan of growing Veronica and if you want to expand the range of blue flowers you grow in your garden, you might consider hunting down some of these plants in your garden centre this coming spring.
To begin with, they are plants for full sun or light shade and range from prostrate rock garden specimens right up to 30-inch tall cutting-garden plants. In our gardens, Veronica tends to flower and grow best when given decent soils with adequate moisture.
Veronica ‘Aztec Gold’ from TerraNova Nurseries
Cutting back the moisture levels to drought standards is the fastest way to shorten both the quality and longevity of the blooms that I know of.
Even the low growing rock garden plants deserve regular deep waterings if you want to see the blooms continue for long times. In fact, some of these varieties are among the longest blooming plants in my garden.
But this plant wants well-drained soils. It is not a plant for heavy clay if you want it to survive for very long. Give it full sun and well-drained soils with adequate moisture and you’ll have a winner of a plant.
How To Use in Garden
Growing Veronica means growing one of the best called ‘Sunny Border Blue’, this is a former Perennial Plant of the Year winner. In our gardens, this plant grows 12 to 18 inches tall and blooms with a mid-blue spike for an easy eight weeks. The foliage is mildew-resistant and as drought tolerant as any Veronica. The growing habit is dense (unlike some others) and upright.
You might even consider using this plant as an edger in the formal garden because of this upright habit and long-bloom season. Last year in the drought, this was one of the few plants that tried to support flower blooms. If you cut back the blooms immediately after they finish, the foliage gets thicker and it will produce more blooms the following year.
There are others equally wonderful Veronicas available; unfortunately, many cheaper nurseries propagate Veronica spicata from seed and sell it as a generic plant. In my experience, growing Veronica spicata is not worth a place in the garden as it tends to be floppy, sparse foliaged and not weather resistant.
Just when you think it is about to be spectacular, it falls over; the flower stalk tips feebly pointing upwards from their prone position.
Veronica ‘Blue Peter’
Some of V. spicata varieties do make good garden plants because of their short, bushy growth habit.
- ‘Icicle’ is a white flower variety that holds itself upright or as upright as a 12-inch tall plant can be.
- ‘Noah Williams’ is a variegated form of ‘Icicle’ and is equally upright although I confess that sometimes its heavy variegation makes it look sick rather than spectacular.
- ‘Red Fox’ has a good compact habit with deep, rosy-red flowers and is worth a place in the garden.
Report on Plants from My Garden
I have several strong growing Veronica in my rock garden and there are three that I would recommend highly.
- The first, V. peduncularis ‘Georgia Blue’ is a spring-blooming Veronica that is the most wonderful true-blue upward facing flowers. It is spectacular when it flowers. The foliage is tight and mat forming and turns a bronze-red in the fall to add to the appeal. If you were artistic, you could plant this on top of smaller spring blooming bulbs so the bulbs would poke through the matted leaves.
- V. gentianoides is an another good low-grower with light blue flower in mid spring. The variegated form of this is an excellent plant and I have enjoyed it for several years now.
- The third plant is one I got last year and its long bloom time and short bush upright flower stalks won my gardening heart. Look for ‘Royal Candles’ in your local garden centre. My plant bloomed from July until September last year in its first year in the garden. It is supposed to be quite hardy right down into zone 2 so I’m anticipating a great bloom this coming year.
- You might see Veronica teucrium offered in garden centres. This name has been changed to Veronica austriaca and it is an excellent low edging type of plant. Delightful blue spikes cover the plant in early summer and if you trim back the flowers immediately after flowering, you may be graced with a second flush of bloom later in the summer.
- ‘Crater Lake Blue’ is a deep gentian-like blue while ‘Shirley Blue’ is a sky-blue shade. Both are good plants.
- Veronica longifolia is one of the taller species and one of the best varieties is ‘Blue Giant’. This is the best one for cutting because of its very fat spikes of lavender blue. While the tips of the flower spikes “nod” or curl over a bit, this simply adds to its charm. If you overfeed this one, as a taller growing Veronica it might require staking. At 30 inches tall, it is an excellent plant for the middle to back of the perennial border.
As a word of caution, I’ve grown both the varieties and species and the species is far away the floppier. If you grow it, do plan on staking or growing it beside a supporting plant.
If I had only two growing Veronica in my garden, they would be ‘Sunny Border Blue’ and ‘Royal Candles’.
You won’t go wrong with either. Mind you, I confess I won’t restrict myself to two plants; I like them too much to hold myself back when it comes time to plant.