672 Glandularia puchellaCommon Names: moss verbena, South American mock vervain, cutleaf verbena Family: Verbenaceae (verbena or vervain Family)
Moss verbena is a freely branching annual (or a tender perennial) that can get about a foot tall, but usually sprawls over and spreads along the ground, rooting at the nodes. A single plant may cover an area 3 ft (0.9 m) in diameter. The aromatic leaves have three lobes. Each is finely dissected into many linear segments that are about a quarter-inch long giving the plant an almost mosslike appearance. Large clusters of pink, lilac, purple or white flowers 3 in (7.6 cm) across are produced all summer long. Each individual flower is about 1 in (2.5 cm) long and a 1/2 in (1.3 cm) across, with a slender, tubular base that flares abruptly to form a flat corolla with five petal-like lobes.
Several cultivars have been selected. 'Alba' has white flowers and threadlike leaf segments; 'Tapien Pink' has pink flowers, and 'Imagination' has purple flowers and is available from seed.
Moss verbena is native to Argentina and Chile, but has escaped cultivation and become established in much of the SE US from North Carolina to Texas. Moss verbena is a weedy little flower that is especially abundant in fields and along road shoulders, where it creeps beneath the mower's blades and paints acres with bright pinks and purples.
CultureLight: Moss verbena does well in full sun; in areas with hot summers, it does well in partial shade. Moisture: Moss verbena is fairly drought tolerant, and requires a well drained soil. Hardiness: USDA Zones 7 - 9. Moss verbena is an evergreen perennial in USDA zones 9B-11, and a perennial that dies back in winter and resprouts in spring in zones 7B-9A. It is grown as an annual in cooler zones. Propagation: Moss verbena can be grown from seed and is easy to start from cuttings. Take tip cuttings 2-3 in (5.1-7.6 cm) long in spring or summer and root in moist, warm potting medium. Roots should develop in a couple weeks.
Use low growing moss verbena in annual flower beds or in the front of borders. Butterflies are attracted to the flowers which bloom from spring until the first frost. Pinch back stems to encourage more branching and dead-head faded flowers to encourage more blooming. Moss verbena looks great in a hanging container.
Moss verbena should be used much more in southern gardens. It grows fast, is tolerant of drought, blooms all season long, is free of pests and diseases, and requires almost no care. It can be mowed down with a lawn mower and it comes right back. If you can't find moss verbena in local garden centers, you might be able to get some cuttings from the edge of a farmer's field if you ask nicely.
Moss verbena is sometimes sold in garden centers under the name, Verbena erinoides, which actually is a synonym for V. lanciniata, a South American annual that is similar to moss verbena.
Although moss verbena is an exotic species in North America and it readily self-sows, it has not become a pest and is not listed by organizations that monitor invasive weeds.