Butterflies and Hummingbirds Love Tall Verbena

Get tips for growing pollinator-friendly tall verbena. Plus, learn where you should and shouldn't plant this flowering perennial.

Why You Should Grow Tall Verbena

Monarch butterfly on tall verbenaCourtesy Charles Miller
Monarch butterfly

Monarchs flocked to this plant in Mackinac Island, Michigan. What is it?” asks Charles Miller of Katy, Texas. Gardening expert Melinda Myers says, “This butterfly magnet is tall verbena (Verbena bonariensis). Its seeds also attract goldfinches later in the season.”

In addition to butterflies and songbirds, keep an eye out for hummingbirds to stop by this plant (which is sometimes called purpletop verbena) that can grow to be 4 feet tall. Plant it in an area with full to part sun for the best season-long displays of purple flowers to draw in pollinators.

Discover more long-blooming flowers for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds.

Care and Growing Tips

Hummingbird Clearwing, White-lined Sphinx moth feeds on a Verbena bonariensis at the Rodale Institute on Tuesday afternoon. RNP Last Look Photo by Natalie Kolb 9/15/2015MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images/Getty Images
White-lined sphinx moth

Tall verbena is a perennial in Zones 7 to 11 and a self-seeding annual in colder areas. Melinda says, “This means you can plant it once and it’ll spread seeds for new plants the following year. Some gardeners find this annoying, while others enjoy the free flowers.” If its self-seeding is a concern for you, Melinda says newer compact varieties such as Meteor Shower produce fewer seeds.

One note of caution from Melinda. If you live in the Southeast or parts of the western U.S. and the Northeast, it’s important to know that tall verbena can be considered invasive in those areas. Consult a local native plant expert for alternatives for your area. (Psst—here are the worst invasive plants you shouldn’t grow.)

Grow tall verbena in containers as a vertical accent, plant it en masse in the garden or allow it to grow through ornamental grasses and other perennials. In addition to full sun, give it a spot in moist, well-draining soil, though it occasionally tolerates dry conditions.

Next, check out more butterfly flowers that are easy to grow from seed.

Molly Jasinski
Molly Jasinski is a writer, editor and social media manager for Birds & Blooms. She enjoys watching the robins, cardinals and occasional goldfinch seen around her apartment.