'Royal Candles' Veronica Plants: Growing Tips

How to Care for Speedwell

Royal Candles speedwell (image) is a perennial. It looks like Blue Hill salvia.
David Beaulieu

Taxonomy and Botany of 'Royal Candles' Veronica

Plant taxonomy classifies the Veronica flowers primarily dealt with here as Veronica spicata 'Royal Candles.' The common name is "speedwell." 'Royal Candles' is a cultivar name.

These flowers are herbaceous perennials and are part of the plantain family.

Features of the Plant, Zones, Sun and Soil Needs

'Royal Candles' speedwell is an upright, clump-forming, compact perennial, reaching just 15 inches in height, with a similar spread. These Veronica flowers bloom in late spring to early summer. But you can enjoy the purplish-blue flower spikes throughout the summer with proper care (see below).

 'Royal Candles' Veronica flowers are best grown in planting zones 3-8. Their cold-hardiness all the way up to USDA zone 3 makes them one of the hardiest speedwells. The species plant is native to northern Eurasia.

Grow these perennials in a sunny area with a loamy, well-drained soil. Although they are drought-resistant plants once mature, you must water them regularly while they are young. Even as older plants, they will bloom better when given a moderate amount of water.

Care for Veronica Flowers

Deadhead the flowers to extend the blooming season. The easiest way to accomplish this, if you have several speedwell plants growing together, is by shearing, so that you can remove many blossoms all at once. Do not go out of your way to remove a large amount of foliage during the shearing, but do not stress out over being especially careful to avoid it, either. A bonus in shearing is that you can easily remove any ratty-looking upper leaves in the process.

Uses in Landscaping, Wildlife Attracted to Veronica Flowers

Because of its decent drought-tolerance once established, 'Royal Candles' speedwell is a good choice for use in rock gardens. Many gardeners use it as a low plant in a perennial flower border.

Veronica flowers are plants that attract butterflies and bees. But gardeners in deer country are lucky, because speedwell is a deer-resistant perennial (it tends not to suffer from rabbit damage, either).

Outstanding Feature 

'Royal Candles' speedwell plants boast bunches of attractive flowers over a long period of time, with proper care. Compact and hardy, they offer a colorful display while asking for little in return in the way of care. Many gardeners do not even fertilize their speedwell plants much (perhaps fertilizing it some years, but not in others); yet they typically bloom well year in and year out in spite of the neglect.

Other Types of Veronica Flowers (for Zones 4-8)

There are many types of speedwell plants. For purposes of gardening, we can divide them into two groups:

  1. Upright growers
  2. Creepers

In addition to 'Royal Candles' speedwell, other kinds of V. spicata are:

  1. 'Giles Van Hees,' which has pink flowers.
  2. 'Icicle,' which bears white flowers.

Besides, V. spicata, other popular upright species in blue are V. longifolia and V. teucrium. For example, widely available are:

  1. V. longifolia 'Sunny Border Blue': Not only does it have longer leaves than 'Royal Candles' (as its Latin species name, longifolia suggests), but it is also a taller plant, able to reach 3 feet in height.
  2. V. teucrium 'Royal Blue': The individual blooms on the flower spikes are bigger than on 'Royal Candles.'

For another tall, spiky plant to grow at the back of a perennial border, consider Culver's root. Variously classified as Veronica virginica or as a member of the closely related genus, Veronicastrum, Culver's root (grown in planting zones 3-8) can reach 6 feet in height and has whorled leaves. But perhaps Culver's root is best known for its spikiness. Not only does it bear flower spikes, but those spikes occur in clusters.

But the genus of Veronica plants is nothing if not diverse and includes low-growing plants, as well. For example, V. umbrosa 'Georgia Blue' stays less than 6 inches tall, making it useful as a flowering ground cover. Another short creeper is V. repens 'Sunshine,' which has golden leaves.

Meaning of the Name

The name, "Veronica" is a shortened version of two Latin words joined together, vera (meaning "true") and iconica (meaning "image"). According to legend, a kind woman wiped the blood and sweat from Christ's face with her veil as he was passing her on the way to Calvary. The "true image" of his face is said to have been transferred onto this linen in what some regard as a miracle. The woman came to be known as "Saint Veronica."