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," but the common and botanical names are used interchangeably, below. 'Royal Candles' is a cultivar name.
Characteristics of the Plant
'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).
Planting Zones, Sun and Soil Requirements
'Royal Candles' Veronica flowers are best grown in planting zones 3-8.
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 multiple blossoms at once. Do not go out of your way to remove an excessive 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 remove any ratty-looking upper leaves in the process.
Uses in Landscaping, Wildlife Attracted to Veronica Flowers
Relatively drought-tolerant once established, 'Royal Candles' speedwell is a reasonably good candidate for use in rock gardens. But it will perform best when supplied with sufficient water. Many gardeners use 'Royal Candles' speedwell as a low plant in a perennial flower border.
'Royal Candles' speedwell plants boast a multitude of attractive flowers -- over an extended period of time, with proper care (see above). 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 much (perhaps fertilizing it some years, but not in others); yet they typically bloom well year in and year out despite the neglect.
Other Types of Veronica Flowers, Meaning of the Name
There are many types of speedwell plants. For our purposes (gardening), we can divide them into two groups:
- Upright growers
In addition to 'Royal Candles' speedwell, another popular upright type is Veronica longifolia 'Sunny Border Blue' (suited to planting zones 4-8). Not only does it have longer leaves than 'Royal Candles' (as its Latin specific epithet, longifolia suggests), but it is also a taller plant, capable of reaching 3 feet in height.
For another tall, spiky plant to grow at the back of a perennial border, consider Culver's root (check out the picture to see what it looks like). Variously classified as Veronica virginica or as a member of the closely related genus, Veronicastrum (Veronicastrum virginicum), 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. The effect is often described as "candelabra-like."
But the genus of Veronica plants is nothing if not diverse and includes low-growing plants, as well. For example, Veronica umbrosa 'Georgia Blue' (which you can grow in planting zones 4-8) stays less than 6 inches tall, making it useful as a flowering ground cover. See these pictures of flowering ground covers for more examples of popular plants that stay short and bloom nicely.
The name, "Veronica" is a contracted 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. Miraculously, the "true image" of his face was transferred onto this linen. The woman came to be known as "Saint Veronica."