Veronica is also called speedwell. It is an easy to grow perennial with tall vertical spikes covered with purple, white, pink, or blue flowers. These flowers bloom from spring through the first frost of fall. The plant grows one to three feet tall. There is also a mat forming variety, called prostrate veronica, that forms mats about ten inches tall.
Veronica grows in zones three through eleven. It likes rich, loamy, soil and full sun. If you have heavy clay soil or sandy soil, you can prepare a special bed for veronica by tilling the earth down to a depth of six inches. Spread three inches of compost over the newly tilled earth and till it in completely. This enriches the soil and improves the drainage so that veronica will grow there.
Veronica can be started from seed by sowing in the fall, but is most commonly grown from transplants purchased from the nursery. To plant it, dig a hole slightly deeper than the root ball and twice as wide. Plant the veronica in it so that the top of the root ball is even with the surface of the soil. Fill in the dirt carefully and water in when finished. Mulch to help retain moisture in the soil and retard weeds.
If you wish to grow veronica from seed, you have two options. You can sow them directly in the garden from after the danger of all frost has passed until the fall. The other option is to grow them indoors in growing medium kept at 70 degrees for the fifteen to twenty days it takes the plants to germinate. Then grow them out to transplant size and transplant as above.
Veronica should be watered one inch each week throughout the growing season. Tall varieties will need to be staked or they will fall over or break in the wind. Deadhead the flowers to extend bloom time.
After the first killing frost, cut the stems to about an inch or two above the soil line.
A common pest of veronica is scale insects, while common diseases are downy mildew, powdery mildew, rust, leaf smut, and root rot.
Every two or three years, veronica should be dug up and divided. This can be done in the fall or the spring. The new plants can be transplanted as above.
The vertical version of veronica is butterfly friendly.
Some popular varieties of veronica are:
- ‘Crater Lake Blue’ which is a mat forming version that grows twelve to eighteen inches tall with deep, dentian-blue flowers in early summer.
- ‘Sunny Border Blue’ is a clump forming version that grows to twenty inches tall and has tubular, dark violet-blue flowers from early summer to late autumn.
- ‘Red Fox’ has very deep pink flowers and grows as a mat forming version up to twelve inches tall, with flowers from early to late summer.
‘Dick’s Wine’ is a mat forming versions that grows to about ten inches tall and produces an abundance of rose-wine colored blooms.