Dictionary of Flowers: Veronica (Speedwell)

Speedwell (Veronica) attract butterflies and other insects. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of mystuart and Flickr
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Speedwell (Veronica) attract butterflies and other insects. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of mystuart and Flickr

  • Veronica 
  • Common name: speedwell
  • Family: Plantaginaceae
  • Category: Perennial in USDA zones 3 to 10
  • Height: 4"to 48”
  • Width: 8” and up, depending on species
  • Sun/part shade
  • Blooms: early spring to early fall
  • Attracts: hummingbirds, butterflies
  • Growth habit: upright, clumping, spreading. Used as a filler or thriller in container combinations
  • Maintenance: easy
  • Soil: average, well drained. Water regularly if grown in containers
  • Garden uses: containers, groundcover, mixed border, cottage garden, rock garden
  • Diseases: powdery mildew, downy mildew, rust
  • Pests: scale insects

Veronica is a large genus of perennials. Different species have different growth habits, size and zone tolerance.

Many hybrids have been bred for garden use as well.

Generally, they are either mat forming or clumping erect plants that bloom in spring to fall. Flowers can be white, pink, blue or violet blue. They grow on spikes or loose clusters.

Veronica for borders, like the garden speedwell grow well in full sun to partial shade. Soil can be average to slightly fertile and be free draining.

Mat forming veronicas prefer leaner soils and require full sun. Some veronica species are somewhat drought tolerant, while others require an average amount of water.

The upright garden speedwell requires a fair amount of water when grown in containers, as it wilts quickly if soil is allowed to dry between waterings. They all need to be deadheaded for continuous bloom, by removing spent flower spikes. 

Divide in spring or fall as the clump gets old, every three to four years and replant divisions immediately. Winter care is minimal.

Shear plants back after the first killing frost. Fertilize by adding manure or compost in spring and working it in the soil around the plant.

For container grown plants, add a slow release granular fertilizer as plant starts to grow in spring. To encourage further bloom, once or twice in summer, add liquid bloom boosting formula liquid fertilizer.

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Veronica is easily available in nurseries in spring. Propagate veronica by division, by stem cuttings in spring or summer, and by seed.

To propagate by seed, plant in moist starting medium. Cover very lightly.

Kept at about 65F, seed germinates in about two weeks. If no germination happens, move to the fridge for three or four weeks and return to 65F.

Provide seedlings plenty of light when they emerge. Harden off and plant in their permanent position once danger of frost has passed. 




IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Veronica can develop leaf diseases if grown in crowded conditions. Improve air circulation and treat with fungicide if needed.

Scale insects can affect plants. Prune affected parts and discard. Remove visible insects by hand and apply neem oil or an insecticide specific for scale. Veronica is deer resistant.

Popular varieties:

  • Veronica spicata 'Jiles Van Hees' - six inches tall, pink blooms
  • Veronica spicata ‘Purpleicious’ - about a foot and a half tall. Deep purple blooms
  • Veronica spicata 'Royal Candles' - grows to up to a foot, with deep blue purple flowers
  • Veronica spicata 'Sunny Border Blue' - grows up to two feet. Blue flowers
  • Veronica liwanensis - mat forming, three inches tall. Blue flowers
  • Veronica hybrid 'Waterperry Blue' - mat forming, five inches. Blue-lavender flowers
  • Veronica prostrata 'Dick's Wine' - mat forming, reddish purple flowers
  • Veronica umbrosa 'Georgia Blue' - mat forming, up to six inches with bright blue flowers

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Full List of Dictionary of Flowers Entries

Annuals For Containers

Perennials For Containers

Go from Veronica (Speedwell) to the Dictionary of Flowers

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