Veronica Speedwell: Information On Planting Speedwell In The Garden
By: Amy Grant
Planting speedwell (Veronica officinalis) in the garden is a great way to enjoy long-lasting blooms throughout the summer season. These easy-care plants don’t require much upkeep once established, making them ideal for the busy gardener. Keep reading to learn more about growing speedwell flowers.
Veronica Speedwell Info
An easy to care for perennial with flowers in an array of vibrant blues, pinks, and white, the speedwell is drought resistant but should be watered in the summer when there is less than an inch (2.5 cm.) of rainfall per week. The plant has a long blooming season, from June to August, and is fairly pest and disease resistant as well, with the exception of some issues like powdery mildew, spider mites, and thrips.
Speedwell perennials are reportedly deer and rabbit resistant, but butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to their dizzying hues. Flowers will bloom for six to eight weeks throughout the summer months and, as a result, make beautiful cut flower additions to vase arrangements or for container gardening in mixed flower groupings.
Growing Speedwell Flowers
Veronica speedwell thrives in conditions as wide ranging as full sun to partial shade and in loamy, sandy or clay dense soils. However, it does prefer a sunny location with well draining soil. The soil pH can be as liberal as neutral, alkaline or acidic, with moisture content from average to quite moist.
The hardy medium sized speedwell, with striking 1 to 3 feet (0.3-1 m.) flower spikes, flourishes in USDA hardiness zones 3-8. As previously mentioned, the speedwell plant is tolerant of a variety of conditions but prefers full sun and well drained soil. Speedwell can be sown from seed; however, it is more commonly purchased from a nursery so planting speedwell in the garden can take place right away in spring.
Speedwell Plant Care
Speedwell plant care is relatively low maintenance. In order to facilitate maximum blooming, it is advisable to remove the faded spikes from Veronica speedwell and periodically divide the plant every few years in the early spring or fall.
The tallest speedwell specimens generally require staking, and in late autumn after the first frost, cut stems back to an inch (2.5 cm.) or so above ground level.
Types of Veronica Speedwell
There are a number of varieties available in the speedwell family. Some of the more popular speedwell types are as follows:
- ‘First Love’, which has longer lasting blooms than other veronicas in a profusion of pink flowers.
- ‘Goodness Grows’ is a low growing plant, 6-12 inches (15-30 cm.) tall with deep blue blossoms.
- Dark blue hued ‘Crater Lake Blue’ grows from 12 to 18 inches (30-45 cm.) tall.
- ‘Sunny Border Blue’ is a taller 20 inch (50 cm.) specimen with dark violet blue blooms.
- ‘Red Fox’ flowers pink on 12 inch (30 cm.) spires.
- ‘Dick’s Wine’ is a low-growing ground cover about 9 inches (22 cm.) tall with rose-colored blooms.
- ‘Royal Candles’ will grow to 18 inches (45 cm.) tall with blue blooms.
- White ‘Icicle’ grows to 18 inches (45 cm.) tall.
- ‘Sunny Blue Border’ is one of the tallest and can grow to 24 inches (60 cm.) tall with light blue blooms.
Speedwell plants mix well with coreopsis, daylilies and yarrow, whose yellow tints enhance the blue hues of some cultivars and have similar growing requirements. All said, the showy speedwell is an excellent addition to any perennial garden.
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Profile of the Speedwell Plant
Speedwell—also known as Veronica, Birdseye, and Gypsyweed—is a well-known weed that you can find in your front yard, backyard, or garden. Depending on the variety, it can also be a ground cover and is planted for its edible and medicinal properties. The variety Veronica Americana is edible and nutritious and has been used in a tea to alleviate symptoms of allergies and asthma.
Speedwell is a tiny herbaceous plant that grows mainly in the northern hemisphere. There are several types of Speedwell, all with numerous small, lobed leaves and small flowers, which vary in the color and can be white, blue, pink, and purple. The leaves grow in pairs and have scalloped edges, while heart-shaped seed pods grow on the stem below the flowers.
How to Deadhead or Prune Speedwell
Also known as veronica, speedwell (Veronica spp.) is a large group of perennial plants with spiky, brilliantly colored blooms in shades of purple, rose, blue and white. Although speedwell is a hardy, low-maintenance plant, various forms of trimming in the early, middle and late part of the growing season encourage the plant to bloom and keep it healthy and attractive. Speedwell, varieties of which reach a height of 2 to 24 inches, is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 9a or zones 3 through 8, depending on the source.
Pinch the tips and first set of leaves of young speedwell plants as soon as you plant them as bedding plants or seedlings in spring. Removing the tips, using scissors or your fingernails, forces the plants to branch out and create bushy, compact growth. Pinch the tips again in about three weeks, if desired, for even fuller growth.
Deadhead speedwell throughout the growing season by pinching or clipping off old, wilted blooms down to the next flower bud or leaf. Removing the spent flowers encourages speedwell plants to continue to produce blooms until autumn. If spent blooms aren't removed, the plants' energy is directed toward developing seeds instead of growing new blooms.
Cut tall varieties of speedwell back to about 6 inches in height if the plants look tired and leggy in midsummer. The plants will appear bare for a few days but soon will develop healthy, more compact growth and renew blooming. Shorter varieties of speedwell may not need to be cut back.
Prune speedwell plants down to 2 to 3 inches in height in late autumn or in early spring before new growth appears. Pruning in autumn is best if you prefer a tidy wintertime garden however, leaving the plants intact until spring adds interest to the garden and provides seeds for songbirds.
Deadhead Or Prune Speedwell
Pinch the tips and first set of leaves of young speedwell plants as soon as you plant them as bedding plants or seedlings in spring. Removing the tips, using scissors or your fingernails, forces the plants to branch out and create bushy, compact growth. Deadhead speedwell throughout the growing season by pinching or clipping off old, wilted blooms down to the next flower bud or leaf. Cut tall varieties of speedwell back to about 6 inches in height if the plants look tired and leggy in midsummer. Pruning in autumn is best if you prefer a tidy wintertime garden however, leaving the plants intact until spring adds interest to the garden and provides seeds for songbirds.
Speedwell is such a carefree plant that you’ll have success with almost any variety you try. Speedwell is even known to be deer- and rabbit-resistant. Below are a few tried-and-true varieties.
- ‘Dick’s Wine’ is a prostrate ground cover, growing no taller than 9 inches. Flowers are rose.
- ‘Goodness Grows’ is a compact variety, growing only 8 to 12 inches tall. It produces deep blue flowers.
- ‘Icicle’ is an unusual and elegant variety with white blooms. The plant grows 18 inches tall.
- ‘Red Fox’ grows to 12 inches tall with pink flowers.
- ‘Sunny Border Blue’ reaches 20 inches high and produces deep bluish-purple flowers.
- ‘True Love’ produces spikes of pink blooms and continues flowering long after most varieties have faded.
For more information on growing speedwell, visit the following sites:
When she’s not writing about gardening, food and canning, Julie Christensen enjoys spending time in her gardens, which include perennials, vegetables and fruit trees. She’s written hundreds of gardening articles for the Gardening Channel, Garden Guides and San Francisco Gate, as well as several e-books.
Frank Richards says
I was mildly offended by aka veronica. The plant is Veronica and one of it’s more common names is Speedwell. It seems to undercut your credibility.
Alyse Welch says
Must we be a critic to someone who wants to help relay information? Speedwell is a common name used more often than Veronica. I do not think it really matters if both names were used.
Julie Slate says
Veronicas: Plant Care and Collection of Varieties
Although low-growing varieties are available, the most common veronicas form attractive 1- to 3-foot-tall mounds. Narrow spikes of tiny flowers adorn the plant in midsummer and are superb in bouquets. Flower colors include pink, blue, and white.
Special features of veronicas
Easy care/low maintenance
Choosing a site to grow veronicas
Select a site with full sun and moist, well-drained soil.
Plant in spring, spacing plants 1 to 2 feet apart, depending on the variety. Prepare the garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost. Dig a hole twice the diameter of the pot the plant is in. Carefully remove the plant from its container and place it in the hole so the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. Carefully fill in around the root ball and firm the soil gently. Water thoroughly.
Apply a thin layer of compost each spring, followed by a 2-inch layer of mulch to retain moisture and control weeds. Water plants during the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week. Stake tall varieties to keep them upright. After the first killing frost, cut stems back to an inch or two above soil line. Divide plants every 3 to 4 years as new growth begins in the spring, lifting plants and dividing them into clumps.