|Butterflies, like this swallowtail,|
absolutely love 'Homestead Purple' verbena
The story of Verbena canadensis 'Homestead Purple' is one worth mentioning. It begins when two horticulturalists from the University of Georgia by the names of Allan Armitage and Michael Dirr (sound familiar? You may see these names on your book shelf) were driving back to their university from Atlanta, GA. At one point, a brilliant purple in a yard they were passing happened to catch their eyes. They went to investigate what particular variety it was, but the homeowner only knew that it had always been growing in her yard. She gave them some cuttings which were later named 'Homestead Purple'. Today it is believed that 'Homestead Purple' is a cross between the traditional Verbena canadensis and some unknown variety that may not even exist anymore.
The cultivar of Verbena canadensis 'Homestead Purple' is valued in today's market for its low spreading habit, rich purple flowers, and spring / early summer blooms that will last until frost. This specific cultivar is located in at least three areas of the University of Tennessee Gardens. Not only is 'Homestead Purple' valued for its long bloom period, but the coarse texture of its evergreen foliage can definitely add winter interest to your perennial garden. Also, if you want to attract wildlife such as butterflies, this plant is an excellent selection. One suggestion for 'Homestead Purple' is that it should be planted near taller, more shrubby plants. This way, if it grows vigorously, it will not suffocate other smaller plants and you won't have to worry about cutting it back so often.
Update (2013): 'Homestead Purple' is easily propagated by rooting cuttings, division, or just pulling up stem sections that have rooted by layering. March of last year we planted 3 very small rooted cuttings of 'Homestead Purple' around the Knoxville Botanical Garden & Arboretum's new "Every Child Outdoors" Youth Vegetable Garden. Each plant was just around 3 inches tall. By May, each plant was so large many visitors believed the Verbana that were spilling out of the beds must have been there for years (We had only just built the garden!).
'Homestead Purple' is an impressive, reliable perennial that can't be beat in a "transition zone" garden.
North Creek Nurseries
Stills, Steven M. Manual of Herbaceous Ornamental Plants.
Photo from: http://www.allanarmitage.net/about_dr_armitage