The veronica genus includes a large family of hardy, spiky-flowered plants made up of over 500 species. Lance-shaped leaves support eye-catching, racemes covered in tiny flowers. These are often seen in pink, purple, blue, or white. Some varieties stay quite short and make excellent ground cover while others reach several feet tall.
Most veronica plants are perennials, however, a few varieties grow as annuals. They are known to attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees. Some varieties are considered invasive in certain states. Be sure to check for any restrictions at your location before planting veronica.
|Common Name||Speedwell, Bird’s Eye, Gypsyweed|
|Plant Type||Perennial, Annual|
|Mature Size||Less than 1/2 in. to 4 ft. tall, 8 in. to 2 ft. wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full, partial|
|Soil Type||Loamy, Sandy, Clay, Well-drained|
|Soil pH||Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline|
|Bloom Time||Spring, Summer, Fall|
|Flower Color||Pink, Blue, Purple, White|
|Hardiness Zones||3-9 (USDA)|
|Native Area||Europe, Asia|
Members of the veronica genus are known for their hardiness, making these perennials an excellent choice for low-maintenance gardens. They are drought-tolerant, deer-resistant, and do not require much pruning or attention once established. They thrive in full sun and rich, well-draining soil. These plants are not often bothered by pests or diseases, though powdery mildew, rust, leaf spot, spider mites, or thrips may appear.
It’s best to plant veronica in the early spring or early fall. This enables the plant to establish during a time of moderate temperatures before harsh heat or cold arrives. Some tall varieties may require staking.
Some varieties, such as Veronica filiformis, are quick spreaders and can easily become invasive if not kept in check. This particular variety is listed as invasive in West Virginia. Be sure to do thorough research before choosing and planting a veronica plant in your area.
Veronica plants thrive in full sun and grow best when they receive about six hours of sunlight each day. They can tolerate partial shade, though they may not grow or flower as vigorously.
If the soil is well-draining, these plants are tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions. This makes them a good choice for gardens with less-than-ideal soil. Veronica plants can handle both sand and clay, as well as acidic to alkaline soil pH levels. However, they do best in loamy, sandy, and well-draining soils.
Veronica plants are hardy plants and are drought-tolerant once established. They do best when given about 1 inch of water per week. During very dry, hot periods, they may need to be watered more often. Just be sure the soil drains and does not stay wet.
Temperature and Humidity
Each variety of veronica will have its own preferred range of temperature. Generally, varieties can be found that grow anywhere from USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9. Keep in mind that these plants prefer moderate humidity levels, with conditions that are neither too moist nor too dry.
Veronica plants are not heavy feeders and therefore do not require regular fertilization. Amending the soil with compost before planting and again every other year in the spring is plenty for these hardy plants. Simply work in fresh compost around the plant and water in the nutrients.
Types of Veronica
- Veronica spicata ‘Giles Van Hees’: This is a shorter growing variety, reaching only 6 inches tall. It is known for its spikes of bright pink flowers and makes a vibrant choice for smaller gardens or for edging.
- Veronica spicata ‘Icicles’: As suggested by its name, this variety bears brilliant white flower spikes reminiscent of upside-down icicles. This variety reaches up to 2 feet tall and is recommended for zone 8.
- Veronica gentianoides ‘Tissington White’: This variety of veronica produces thick mats of foliage from which tall spikes of powdery blue and white flowers appear. These spikes can reach over 1 1/2 feet tall and are covered in dainty, rounded flowers.
There isn’t much pruning required for plants in the Veronica genus. Throughout the growing season, you should deadhead spent or faded blooms to encourage more flowering. After the first frost arrives and kills the foliage, prune the Veronica plant down to a few inches above the ground. This will keep the plant clean and allow it to grow new and fresh when spring arrives.
Propagating veronica plants can easily be done through division and cuttings. Division is best done every few years to encourage healthy, full growth, especially if the center of the plant begins to thin out. This type of propagation is ideally performed in the spring or fall. Cuttings are best taken in the spring.
To divide the plant, you will need a garden shovel, a hand shovel, a pair of sharp snips, and a pair of garden gloves. Then follow these instructions:
- Using the garden shovel, dig a circle around the plant to gently loosen the root system.
- Once the plant is loosened, gently lift it from the ground.
- Using the shovels and the snips, slice through the plant and its root system to create multiple divisions. Make sure each division has healthy roots and foliage.
- Plant each division in its desired location.
To take cuttings, you will need a sharp pair of garden snips, a small pot, and rich, well-draining soil. Then follow these instructions:
- In spring, take a softwood cutting that is around 6 inches long.
- Remove any lower leaves.
- Plant the cutting in moist, rich, and well-draining soil.
- Place the cutting in a warm environment with bright light.
- Keep the soil moist as roots form. Check for roots in a couple of weeks by gently tugging at the cutting. Resistance means roots have grown.
- Once the cutting is growing strong, transfer it into the garden.
How to Grow Veronica From Seed
These plants can also be started from seeds both indoors and outdoors. To start seeds indoors, plant them four to six weeks before the last frost. You will need rich, well-draining soil, small pots, and a sunny location or grow lights. Then follow these instructions:
- Fill the small pots with rich, moist soil.
- Gently press a couple of seeds into each pot. Be sure not to bury the seeds as they need light to germinate.
- Place the pots in a warm, sunny location, such as in a window or under a grow light.
- Germination should occur in two to three weeks. Once the threat of frost is gone, begin hardening off the seedlings to prepare them for the garden.
To start seeds outdoors, follow these instructions:
- Wait until all threat of frost is gone, then choose a sunny location for planting.
- Amend the soil with compost before planting.
- Moisten the soil, then sow the seeds. Gently press them into the soil without burying them.
- Keep the soil moist as they germinate, which should take around two to three weeks.
Potting and Repotting Veronica
Veronica plants, particularly small varieties, make great container plants. It is important to consider the mature size of the variety before planting them in pots. When choosing a pot, be sure to select a container with freely flowing drainage holes, as soggy soil can cause problems for veronica plants. Select a container that provides several inches of room on all sides to allow for the plant to grow. Gently tease the roots before planting to encourage root growth. Make sure the top of the root ball is level with the top of the soil.
If the plant outgrows its container, gently slide the plant out and replant it in a slightly larger container. Fill the excess space in with compost-rich soil and water thoroughly.
When grown in their proper growing zone, veronica plants are hardy and do not require additional care to survive the winter. Just be sure the soil does not get overly wet during the winter months, as this can lead to problems such as root rot, which can kill the plant.
How to Get Veronica to Bloom
Whether the plant is a few inches or several feet tall, veronica is known for its spiky racemes of tiny flowers. Some ground cover varieties sport tiny, individual flowers rather than a flower-covered raceme. These colorful flowers are seen in purple, pink, blue, and white. They are long-lasting and many varieties bloom from spring to fall. Some even bloom repeatedly throughout the growing season.
Veronica plants are quite hardy and are not heavy feeders, so they do not often need much help to bloom. Be sure they are receiving plenty of sunshine and an adequate amount of water. Make sure the soil drains properly, as soggy soil can cause problems for these plants. Deadhead old or faded blooms to encourage new, healthy blooms to take their place.
Common Problems With Veronica
Since these plants are quite hardy, they do not often cope with many issues. This makes them a popular, easy plant to add to a variety of different landscapes. The biggest problem you may encounter while growing veronica is caused by soggy, poorly-draining soil.
Wilting, Yellowing Foliage and Mushy Stems
If foliage appears yellow, wilted, and mushy, these are all signs of root rot. Root rot can be a problem for veronica plants grown in soil that does not drain well. If this occurs, treat it promptly to try to save the plant. Gently dig up the plant and trim away any infected roots that are mushy, soft, and discolored. Prune any infected foliage. Then be sure to amend the soil with sand or compost to improve the drainage. Replant the plant and water only once the soil begins to dry.
Are veronica plants annuals or perennials?
The veronica genus consists of over 500 species. The majority are perennial species, though some varieties grow only as annuals.
Are veronica plants invasive?
Not all species of veronica are invasive, though some are considered to be invasive in certain states. For example, Veronica persica is considered invasive in Alaska and West Virginia. You should consult invasive species lists for your area before planting veronica.
Are veronica and speedwell the same plant?
Veronica plants are often known by their common name, speedwells. Both names refer to a genus of plants that consists of over 500 species known for their hardy nature and colorful, spiky flowers.
Klingaman, Gerald. Plant of the Week: Veronica Sunny Border Blue Speedwell. University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, 2014.
Persian Speedwell, Veronica Persica Scrophulariales: Scrophulariaceae. Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.
Veronica rust – Puccinia veronicae-longifoliae. Michigan State University.
Speedwell (Veronica spicata). University of Illinois Extension.
Gilman, Edward. Veronica Spp. Wooly Speedwell. University of Florida IFAS Extension, 2014.
Slender Speedwell, Veronica Filiformis Scrophulariales: Scrophulariaceae. Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.
Veronica spicata. NC State Extension.