Verbena vs. Scaevola: Two Trailing Beauties

One day I was overthinking the verbena and scaevola in my planter arrangements. So I decided to compile my research and ramblings into an article. Before posting it here on my personal blog, I submitted it to our much beloved site Gardening Know How – and it got published! Since I’m constantly looking up how to solve problems (or prevent them) on GKH, I’m excited to finally contribute!

Fellow Gardeners: Do you prefer verbena or scaevola? What are your favorite spillers? Comment below!  


Verbena and scaevola are often paired together at garden nurseries. When you’re shopping for summer annuals, likely you consider a thriller, filler and spiller. For the latter, verbena is popular for its bold round clusters; however there’s also beauty in scaevola’s delicate fanned flowers.

Verbena
Verbena
Scaevola
Scaevola

The similarities between these two nectar rich spillers

Both have a trailing habit, ideal for urns and window boxes. Pouring with petunias and geraniums, these spillers fill out any container. Be sure to deadhead spent blooms – verbena can cut back one fourth of its length.

Average watering is necessary, considering they are drought tolerant and in fact thrive in the hot sun. They do best when forced not to dry. Water when the soil feels a little dry to the touch.

These nectar rich spillers attract butterflies to their blooms and deter deer. While they are favored in containers, they can be used as groundcovers too.

To spread the vines around the rest of your garden, propagate cuttings.

The differences between the ‘Enchanter’s Plant’ and ‘Down Under Dainties’

Verbena blooms in many colors:  orange, pink, purple, red, white, yellow and variegated. Scaevola, on the other hand, only comes in three colors: blue, pink and white.

Verbena prefers poor soil but can use some compost organic material to improve drainage. Scaevola performs best in a commercial potting mix.

Scaevola is also called the “rayed” or “fanned” flower, in light of its blossoms resembling the rays of the sun or a flat fan. In Latin, Scaevola means “left-handed”, symbolizing its one-sided blooms. Verbena means a “leafy branch used ceremoniously or medicinally” in Latin; “enchanter’s plant” is another common nickname. Beloved in homeopathy, verbena officinalis cures nearly 30 health issues.

Verbena thrives in either part sun or full sun; scaevola insists on full sun. A native to the Americas and Asia, verbena is hardy in zones 7-11. Scaevola, nicknamed Down Under Dainties, is native to Australia and hardy in zones 9-11.

Planter arrangements in my garden

I’m easily swayed by spillers, which suit the large concrete urn in my front yard and the 50-inch wide window box hanging off my kitchen window. When met with trays of verbena and scaevola on my flower shopping adventures, I couldn’t resist either of them. I’m familiar with verbena’s need for deadheading, and always found it worth the lush vining blooms.

This is the first time I’m welcoming scaevola in my garden. I think it has a classier, old-world feel compared to verbena. I prefer pairing scaevola with the European geranium – and verbena with the modern, American petunia.

Although I ended up combining the old with the new in my urn. Read more.


Fellow Gardeners: Do you prefer verbena or scaevola? What are your favorite spillers? Comment below!  

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