Gardeners are often looking for good solid perennials that will have attractive flowers, be easy to take care of, grow nicely but not take over the garden. One group of plants that should be considered is the Veronicas.
Veronicas offer the gardener a wide array of plants to work into many different areas of the garden. There are several species of this durable perennial and probably dozens of different cultivars to choose from. Most of them are hardy, withstanding cold and often open winters yet they can also take the heat and drought of summer. Veronica provides some of the clearest, truest blues in the perennial border. Other flower colours are also available, including purple, pink, rose and white.
Some species are prostrate, only raising their flowers a few inches above the ground while others can reach 120cm (4ft) in height and make excellent cut flowers. Many work well in the rock garden while others are better suited to a moister location in the mixed border. Some are late spring blooming while others display their flowers for the rest of the summer and even up until first frosts.
Veronica austriaca subsp. teucrium, commonly called Saw-Leaved Speedwell is a compact, mound-forming plant with upright stems and toothed, glossy oblong leaves. Native to Europe and eastern Asia it is occasionally known as Austrian speedwell or Hungarian speedwell.
This tidy plant forms a lush mat of foliage which, from late spring to early summer produces long racemes that are clad in blue flowers. Reaching heights of up to 45cm (18in) with a spread of around 30cm (12in), it is a useful plant for filling in, without overpowering, the front of borders. Fully hardy and attractive to bees and butterflies, the plants are easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade.
The gorgeous flowers of 'Royal Blue' offers that much sought-after colour for the garden, an intensely, vivid cobalt blue that is a real show stopper.
The Royal Horticultural Society have awarded Veronica austriaca subsp. teucrium 'Royal Blue' the Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
Sowing: February to June or September to October.
Sow the seeds on the surface of lightly firmed, moist seed compost in pots or trays. Seeds must be sown thinly. Do not cover very small seeds, but tightly press into the compost. Water from the base of the tray, Place in a propagator or warm place, ideally at 13 to 16°C (55 to 60°F). Keep the compost moist but not wet at all times. Germination 30 to 40 days. Keep in cooler conditions after germination occurs.
Seedlings can be slow to grow, prick out each seedling once it has its first set of true leaves and transplant into 7.5cm (3in) pots containing free-draining compost and grow them on in frost free conditions until large enough to plant outside.
Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out after all risk of frost has passed. Overwinter autumn sown plants in frost-free conditions before planting out the following spring. Plant 30 to 60cm apart.
Veronica prefers full sunshine but can tolerate some shade. If shade is too dense staking will be necessary to hold the plant upright. It likes a rich loamy soil best but most soils are tolerated as long as some organic material has been dug into them. It will tolerate occasional waterlogged soils.
To keep Veronica re-blooming remove the old flower spikes as they fade; this promotes fresh new growth which in turn will provide renewed flowering. After the first killing frost, cut stems back to between 25m and 50mm above the soil line. Divide congested plants every 3 to 4 years as new growth begins in the spring.
Veronica can be a workhorse in the cut flower garden; it will provide a full second crop of stems if cut down completely to the ground after the first harvest. Veronica has a linear type flower that provides movement, action, or life to an arrangement. They are superb in bouquets and long lasting in the vase.
Cut when the flowers are beginning to open but before the oldest flowers on the stem start to show signs of browning. Cut the stems at a 45 degree angle with a sharp knife. Place into a bucket filled with luke warm water. Add flower food and leave over night to condition before using.
To make your own cut flower food mix ½ teaspoon of table sugar to a quart of cold water and mix thoroughly.
Be sure to remove any foliage that may be below the water line to prevent bacteria formation in the water. Re-cut ½in from the base of each stem under water using a sharp knife with each water change. Remove any foliage that may become submerged after re-cutting.
Naturalistic garden, Cottage or Informal Garden, Bees and Butterflies. Flower Arranging.
There are about 500 species of Veronica making it the largest genus in the flowering plant family Scrophulariaceae.
Veronica longifolia is native to much of Europe, S.W. Asia, Mongolia, Korea and N. China, and found in places such as Steppes, grassy mountain slopes, meadows at forest edges and birch forests below 1500 metres in northwest China.
It was first recorded in cultivation in France and Switzerland in the mid 1500's.
The genus name Veronica for Saint Veronica, who in Christian mythology gave Christ a cloth to wipe his face while carrying the cross on the way to Calvary, and so named because the markings on some species supposedly resemble those on her sacred handkerchief.
The species name spicata comes from the Latin spica for spike, describing the elongated inflorescence, with its crowded, stalkless flower heads.
The sub-species name incana stems from the Latin word incan, which means 'grey or white with age' and refers to the silver-grey leaves.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 100mg Average Seed Count 310 seeds Family Scrophulariaceae Genus Veronica Species austriaca subsp. teucrium Cultivar Royal Blue Synonym Veronica spicata 'Glory' aka 'Royal Candles' Common Name Saw-Leaved Speedwell Other Common Names Austrian speedwell or Hungarian speedwell Other Language Names Fr: Teucride d'Allemagne Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers Vivid cobalt blue flowers Natural Flower Time Late spring to early summer Foliage Toothed oblong green leaves. Height 45cm (18in) Spread 30cm (12in) Position Full sun or partial shade Soil Moist, fertile soil