To the veronica genus belong some perennial herbaceous plants, originating in Europe and Asia; with the genus Veronica small shrubs are also indicated, with a flowering similar to veroniche, which actually belong to the Hebe genus and come from New Zealand.
The veroniche are herbaceous of medium or large size, they develop quite compact tufts, made up of thin erect, semi-woody stems, at the base of which are small lanceolate leaves, dark green; in spring, until the beginning of summer, at the apex of the stems small blue-purple flowers bloom, gathered in long panicles, up to 25-40 cm high.
Veronica gentianoides has very large leaves, reaches 50-60 cm in height, and has large flowers, gathered in spikes. Veronica longifolia has slightly larger flakes than Veronica spicata, with similar flowers but gathered in higher panicles. Some hybrids of Veronica spicata are available on the market, with white, blue, pink and purple flowers. These plants are suitable in borders, or even in rock gardens. To encourage continued flowering it is recommended to trim the stems that carry faded flowers.
They settle in a sunny place, partially shaded during the hottest hours of the day; it is good to avoid excessively hot areas, to avoid that the flowering has a short duration. These plants do not fear the cold; generally in areas with cold winters the aerial part dries up completely during the coldest periods of the year; in areas with mild winters it may happen that the veroniche remain in vegetazone throughout the year.
|Family and gender|
Scrophulariaceae, gen. Veronica, about 250 species
|Type of plant||Perennial (or annual) herbaceous or semi-woody|
|Ground||Fertile, rich in humus and slightly moist|
|colors||Blue, white, lilac, pink|
|Irrigation||Adjust without exaggerating|
|Flowering||June-October depending on the variety|
|Propagation||Seed, division, cutting||Pests and diseases||Powdery mildew and downy mildew||Purposes||Ground cover, rock garden, border||Height||From 5 cm to one meter|
Veronica belongs to the Scrophulariacee family which includes about 250 species of annuals or perennials, mostly herbaceous, although some over time become rather woody at the base. It is a rather variable genus and can be found in nature in many different habitats: from marshy areas to mountain meadows. They are almost all of European origin and 30 species are endemic to Italy. One of these is certainly known by everyone because it is frequent in all meadows in spring: the veronica agrestis, also called Occhi della Madonna.
Generally speaking we can say that they have opposite basal leaves while those on the stems are alternate. They can be more or less lanceolate depending on the species, but sometimes they even become almost rounded. It also happens that they are dental, petiolate or sessile. The flowers are arranged on the final part of the stems which are sometimes short, others very long. Each flower has 4 or 5 petals and is tubular in shape which then opens at the end. Growing requirements can vary significantly from species to species. Some may require a lot of water, others may be more adaptable and therefore more easily used for various purposes in a garden. Some particularly high varieties have found a good use as a cut flower. It should be noted that once the genus included both herbaceous and shrub species. With the modern classification, however, the shrubbery have all been transferred and are now considered part of the Hebe.
They are generally easy to grow and can give great satisfaction thanks to their long flowering period. The lower species and cultivars find their ideal location in the rock garden or in the opposite part of the mixed borders. They can also be very useful as a ground cover. The higher ones instead are capable of worthily accompanying shrubs such as roses or hydrangeas or in any case they can be placed on the back or in the center of the borders.
from march september we avoid leaving the soil too dry, watering regularly. During the vegetative period it is advisable to provide fertilizer for flowering plants, every 10-15 days, dissolved in the water used for watering.
They are grown in a balanced soil, rich in humus, quite drained. They need a rich, fertile and moderately moist soil. However, due to the almost total variety, it must be well drained. Excessive water stagnation could in fact be the cause of radical rot or radical asphyxia. We also avoid, therefore, excessively clayey and compact soils or try to lighten them slightly by inserting river sand and a bit of gravel in the mixture.
It occurs by seed, taking the seeds from the plant only when they are completely dried. In autumn it is also possible to divide the clumps. The species can be multiplied by seeding in lettorino or cold greenhouse in spring. The cultivars, to maintain their peculiar characteristics, are instead propagated through cuttings (to be carried out in spring or autumn) or division of the head (in spring).
Pests and diseases
It may happen that aphids attack flowers. These are rather resistant vegetables. However, if they grow up in unfit climates or positions, they can also become prone to diseases. First of all it can happen that too compact a soil and excessive irrigations cause root rot (the first symptoms are a generalized yellowing of the whole plant). The remedy is clearly to move them (in case the substratum is really too clayey) or to reduce the water supply.
If the plant is in an area that is too sunny, poorly ventilated and environmental humidity is abundant, it may happen that the leaves are hit by powdery mildew or mildew. In that case it is good to eliminate the affected parts and distribute a broad spectrum fungicide. Prevention consists mainly of avoiding wetting the leaves during irrigation.
Almost all veroniche are rather rustic and, indeed, prefer cold to dry heat. As we have said, most of them in fact come from mountainous areas, shores of streams or ponds and therefore they should not have problems to face even the most rigid of winters.
There are few species that need very moist soil. Most of the veroniche that are found on the market instead need an always fresh substrate, but not perennially soaked. In full ground it is good to intervene with irrigations at least once a week, but only in the middle of summer (or in the case of a long period of drought). If we live in particularly hot areas, it will be better to intervene more (especially in the Center-South and on the coasts).
In the whole North the ideal exposure is the full sun. In these conditions it will be able to bloom well and with a good continuity. As you descend into the peninsula (and also depending on the altitude) it will be better to give more and more half-shade exposure, so that you can maintain that fresh habitat that is essential for it to thrive.
Before planting, it will be a good idea to mix a good quantity of flour or pellet manure to the soil to improve texture and vitality. For the rest we can in the autumn spread some handful of organic soil improver in the area. During the growing season, on the other hand, you can decide whether to distribute a slow release granular fertilizer two or three times a year (depending on the manufacturer's instructions) or a liquid product every 15 days. The former is certainly to be preferred in the open ground, the latter gives better results on plants grown in pots.
In any case, we choose a formulation in which potassium is prevalent on phosphorus and nitrogen (especially during the flowering period). In this way the plant will produce new corollas that are very colorful and with a good continuity.
Planting takes place in spring. There are usually specimens on sale in an 8 cm jar. It is important to dig a large and deep hole at least twice and that the surrounding soil is well worked so that the plant, at least in the early stages, does not find an obstacle to the expansion of the roots.
It is mostly a lively plant, so the treatments are minimal. The erect species should be cut at ground level in autumn. For those instead upholstering must intervene to eliminate the exhausted flowers and then stimulate the plant to produce others. Towards the end of the summer almost all of them lose their leaves and therefore take on an unpleasant general appearance. At that point you can intervene by cutting them at the base.
Austrian Veronica peritus with a bright blue flower collected in pairs of spikes sprouting from the leaf axils. Suitable for herbaceous borders, it needs full sun and well-drained soil. Native to the forests and slopes of Eastern Europe. The height goes from 30 to 90 cm.
Veronica gentianoides ground cover or cespitose perennial with beautiful rosettes of glossy leaves. At the beginning of summer it produces erect stems with pale blue, white or blue flowers of about 2 cm. He wants a moist but well-drained soil. Not suitable for areas that are too dry during the summer months. The height goes from 30 to 60 cm
Veronica incana native to Asia Minor, it is characterized by silvery leaves, slightly toothed that contrast with pale blue flowers, in terminal spikes. There are the glaucous and silvery varieties with silvery leaves and stems and flowers of a darker blue, beautiful to insert in the rock garden on the front of the borders.
Veronica longifolia bears stems erected in pairs or in bunches of lanceolate leaves. The stems reach 25 cm and sometimes carry secondary ears. The color varies from lilac to blue. It has a long flowering that lasts from June to September. Excellent in herbaceous borders, where it expands rapidly. The stems may need support. Some cultivars reach up to 90 cm in height.
Veronica peduncularis ground cover perennial with branching rhizomes and prostrate stems, but facing upwards at the apex. It has beautiful light green or bronze green foliage, very decorative. It begins to bloom at the end of spring to continue until autumn with intense blue corollas. There are also cultivars in lilac and pink. The height goes from 10 to 30 cm. Ideal for the front of herbaceous borders, as a ground cover or in the rock garden.
Veronica prostrate (also called rupestris) very vigorous and rapidly expanding ground cover plant. Ideal for quickly covering large areas. It has dark green leaves and spikes in various shades of blue and lilac. It also grows in the cracks and cracks of the floors. It can therefore be very decorative, but also invasive, a danger to our garden.
Veronica repens this is also a ground cover with important vigor. It produces small spikes that carry up to 6 flowers, pink, white or blue. The area around the corollas takes on a silvery appearance due to the presence of a light down. It wants moist, but well-drained soil and full sun. Excellent to accompany bulbous plants, in the rock garden or as a rapidly expanding ground cover. The height usually does not exceed 10 cm.
Veronica spicata It is native to Europe and widespread in Italy in the meadows. It has many varieties suitable for flowerbeds, borders and rock gardens. The height goes from 30 to 60 cm and the flower spikes can vary from blue to pink, to white.
Veronica teucrium also endemic, it can reach 45 cm in height. It has long slender stems and narrow dark green leaves. Produces thin lavender-colored ears. There are cultivars with golden leaves (Trehane). Very well known is the Shirley Blue with sky blue flowers, 30 cm high and greyish leaves.
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Veronica is an evergreen plant native to North America, Asia and Europe, generally it is co
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