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Tapien Verbenas Complement All Home Gardens
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
Tapien verbena is all the rage at nurseries and with home gardeners across the state. Tapien was hybridized in Japan by the same breeders that brought us the Surfinia petunias.
Limited supplies were available last year and Tapiens quickly sold out as gardeners were amazed at the profusion of blooms. They are available at most nurseries right now, but I suspect they will disappear fast again.
The Tapien is available in four colors. Blue Tapien, which looks purple; lavender, which is the color of the Ageratum; pink; and powder blue, which is white with a hint of blue.
It may very well be the ultimate groundcover with its dense carpet of green foliage topped off by gorgeous flowers all summer. This group of verbenas are highly resistant to powdery mildew. The foliage is deep green and feathery in appearance, almost resembling carrots or parsley.
The plant is a prolific flower producer and is heat resistant. In other words, it blooms all summer through fall. It is considered perennial -- withstanding as low as 14 degrees. I have had mine comeback this year in hanging baskets that were exposed.
The plant is low growing, reaching only six to eight inches in height and spreads with ease. It will root at each node along the branches or stems, so you will want to plant on 18- to 24-inch centers, as your bed is sure to fill in fast.
Plant in full sun for best flowering, but some shade will not hurt them. It is super in hanging baskets, containers, window boxes or anywhere a cascading plant is needed.
For the landscape, Tapien will work as a border plant and very well on slopes. They bloom for months on end in well-prepared, organic-rich beds, which is the preferred way to grow them. But I also planted some in soil fit for bricks, and they performed superbly there, too!
One show-stopping display is to plant the Blue Tapien as the border plant and plant New Gold lantana or melampodium as an interior plant that will be about 10 to 12 inches taller. The colors will resemble Mardi Gras or perhaps and LSU tiger bed.
Another great combination planting is to use the Pink Tapien with dwarf fountain grass or purple fountain grass. Try planting them in urns or ginger-jar shaped containers with New Wonder scaevola and then something erect like a salvia or geranium.
Its low-growing habit and border plant requirement also make it a good plant for attracting butterflies. You will find the swallowtails and silver-spotted skippers visiting throughout the season.
Tapien verbenas are drought tolerant when planted in the ground. In a container, you will need to keep them slightly moist at all times. When grown as a ground cover or border plant, fertilize once a month with a complete fertilizer that is slightly higher in nitrogen, such as a 12-6-6. If planted in containers or window boxes, feed them every two weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer.
If the Tapien creeps beyond your boundary, prune them as needed. In fact, it will respond favorably to pruning. Last year, I routinely kept mine in bounds with the string trimmer.
Don't tarry in visiting your garden center as the Tapiens will go fast again this spring.