Magic Show® ‘Wizard of Ahhs’ spike speedwell.
Photo by: Proven Winners

For gardeners with limited time, choosing carefree plants is key to a low-maintenance yard. Speedwell (Veronica) is a tough ornamental that is tolerant of different soils and watering needs, with varieties that are hardy in most regions. Sizes and forms range from creeping groundcovers a few inches high to upright flower spikes reaching several feet tall. Low growers are suited for containers, border edging and rock gardens, while taller veronicas make good cut flowers and combine well with other plants in beds and borders. Groundcovers tend to bloom in spring, while spiky forms produce flowers during the summer.

There are more than 500 species of Veronica, with origins mainly in Europe. Nearly all are long-lived perennials, particularly those grown by home gardeners, though a small percentage are annuals. Veronica flowers are attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies and pollinating insects, making them eco-friendly, too.

On this page: The Basics | Planting Instructions | Care | How to Choose the Right Veronica | Varieties | Landscaping Tips

SPEEDWELL BASICS

Zones:

3-9

Height/Spread:

3 to 48 inches tall, 8 to 24 inches wide

Exposure:

Veronica blooms best with at least 6 hours of full sun, but can tolerate partial shade.

Bloom time:

From spring to fall, some with repeat bloom.

Color and characteristics:

Flowers come in blue, purple, white or pink; with green, gold, or silver foliage. Groundcover types produce a profusion of tiny individual flowers or short flower spikes; and summer blooming, taller varieties, have clusters of flowers that grow in spikes.

Toxicity:

Veronica is not thought to be toxic to humans or pets. Some are edible, while others have herbal or medicinal qualities.

PLANTING INSTRUCTIONS

"Pollinator Charmer" patio container includes: Magic Show® ‘Wizard of Ahhs’ spike speedwell, Rockin® Deep Purple salvia, ‘Cat’s Pajamas’ catmint, ‘Pardon My Lavender’ bee balm, and Luscious® Citrus Blend™ lantana. Photo by: Proven Winners

When to plant:

Transplant during cooler months in spring or fall to avoid heat stress. Start seed indoors in late winter or early spring, 4 to 6 weeks prior to your last average frost-free date. Sow seeds directly outside in mid-late spring after all danger of frost is past.

Where to plant:

Choose a sunny site with rich, well-draining soil. Veronica can tolerate a range of soil conditions and is drought-tolerant once established. Planting in too much shade can result in fewer flowers.

How to plant:

Loosen soil to the depth of the container and twice the diameter, and mix in compost. Remove the plant from the container and gently tease out the roots if potbound. Dig a hole and place the plant so the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. Gently tamp down soil around the base and water well. Spacing will vary from 10 to 20 inches depending on the variety. When growing from seed, press seeds gently into the soil but don’t cover, as light will aid in germination. Keep moist until seeds germinate in approximately 14 to 21 days.

CARE TIPS

Pruning and maintenance:

For upright types, cut back spent flowers just below the spike to encourage rebloom. Taller varieties may need staking. All types can be divided in spring or fall every few years as needed, especially if dieback occurs at the center of the plant.

Soil:

Most veronicas do best in amended, well-draining soil. They are tolerant of clay or sand, as well as neutral, alkaline, or acidic pH.

Amendments & fertilizer:

In spring, cover soil around the plant with a thin layer of compost, then add two inches of mulch to suppress weeds and conserve moisture. Avoid covering the crown of the plant with either the compost or mulch.

Watering:

Water once a week during summer, or more as needed during hot spells.

Diseases and pests:

When planted in the ideal site, veronica is resistant to most pests and diseases. If planted in too much shade, veronica can develop fungal diseases such as powdery mildew, rust and leaf spot. Poor drainage can cause root rot. Insect problems include scale, spider mites and thrips.

Deer resistance:

Veronica tends to be deer-resistant, though extreme conditions can result in deer grazing on plants they wouldn’t otherwise.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT VERONICA

With so many varieties, here are some tips to consider:

For slopes, walls and bedding displays:

Use varieties with a vigorous spreading habit to cover large areas.

For edging, paths and rock gardens:

Plant groundcover types along pathways, in between pavers, at the edge of borders, or in a rock garden in combination with other alpine plants.

For containers, hanging baskets and window boxes:

Use groundcover varieties that will trail over the edge and plant in combination with other plants with mounding and upright habits. Smaller spiky types can also be combined in containers with other plants with similar growing needs.

For mixed borders:

Combine upright varieties with other summer-blooming perennials and shrubs.

VARIETIES TO TRY

Swipe to view slides

Photo by: Proven Winners

Magic Show® ‘Enchanted Indigo’Buy now from Proven Winners
Spike speedwell, Veronica hybrid

Zones:

4-8

Height/Spread:

Mounding upright habit, 16 to 18 inches tall and wide

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Bloom Time:

Early summer, with repeat bloom in late summer

Color:

Deep purple flowers, dark green foliage

Vivid royal purple flower spikes comprise half the total height for a pleasing balance of foliage and flowers. The compact habit makes this a good choice for containers, as an accent towards the front of a mixed border, or massed in a bedding display.

Photo by: Proven Winners

Magic Show® ‘Wizard of Ahhs’ Buy now from Proven Winners
Spike speedwell, Veronica hybrid

Zones:

4-8

Height/Spread:

Mounding spreading habit, 14 to 16 inches tall and 18 to 22 inches wide

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Bloom Time:

Early to late summer

Color:

Deep blue flowers, dark green foliage

With a spreading habit and exceptionally long bloom time, the vibrant blue flowers go with many other colors. Mass in a bedding display, use as edging along pathways and borders, or in containers with other plants.

Photo by: Walters Gardens

Magic Show® ‘White Wands’ Buy now from Proven Winners
Spike speedwell, Veronica hybrid

Zones:

4-8

Height/Spread:

Mounding spreading habit, 14 to 16 inches tall and 16 to 20 inches wide

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Bloom Time:

Early-mid summer

Color:

White flowers, medium green foliage

This vigorous spreader makes a good choice for edging walkways and borders, or in containers. The clean white flower color cools down the garden during hot summer months, combining well with many other plants.

Photo by: agatchen / Shutterstock

Royal Candles (syn. ‘Glory’)
Dwarf spike speedwell, Veronica spicata

Zones:

3-8

Height/Spread:

Mounding upright habit, 8 to 12 inches tall and 12 to 18 inches wide

Exposure:

Full sun

Bloom Time:

Early-late summer

Color:

Deep violet-blue flowers, dark green foliage

With an exceptionally long bloom time and smaller stature, this variety is ideal for smaller spaces. Use as edging along a border or pathway, massed in a bedding display, or in a container with other plants that have interesting foliage or summer blooms.

Photo by: Janet Loughrey

‘Georgia Blue’
Creeping speedwell, Veronica peduncularis (syn. V. umbrosa)

Zones:

6-8

Height/Spread:

Creeping spreading habit, 6 to 8 inches tall and 12 to 18 inches wide

Exposure:

Full sun

Bloom Time:

Early-mid spring, possible sparse rebloom in late summer

Color:

Sapphire blue flowers with a white center, medium green foliage

Tolerant of a variety of conditions, this low, mat-forming groundcover has saucer-shaped flowers and toothed green leaves tinged with bronze. ‘Georgia Blue’ spreads readily, making it a good choice to fill in the front of a border, for edging pathways, in between pavers, on a slope, or in a rock garden.

Photo by: photowind / Shutterstock

‘First Love’
Speedwell, Veronica hybrid

Zones:

4-8

Height/Spread:

Upright spreading habit, 16 inches tall and 12 to 18 inches wide

Exposure:

Full sun

Bloom Time:

Early-late summer

Color:

Magenta-pink flowers, medium green foliage

This exceptionally long bloomer has uniform branching that produces a proliferation of flower spikes. Use at the edge of borders or pathways, in a rock garden, or in a container with other plants.

Photo by: Sylvain Marineau / Millette Photomedia

‘Giles van Hees’
Speedwell, Veronica spicata

Zones:

4-8

Height/Spread:

Neat mounding habit, 6 inches tall and 8 to 10 inches wide

Exposure:

Full sun

Bloom Time:

Late spring-mid summer

Color:

Rose-pink flowers, dark green foliage

Short, spiky flowers bloom above the lance-shaped foliage. The dwarf stature makes this a good choice for small spaces, for edging pathways, along a border or rock wall, or in a container with other plants. Mass in drifts for greater impact.

Photo by: Rock Giguere / Millette Photomedia

‘Whitewater’
Creeping speedwell, Veronica hybrid

Zones:

4-7

Height/Spread:

Creeping spreading habit, 4 to 6 inches tall and 12 to 24 inches wide

Exposure:

Full sun

Bloom Time:

Late spring, with intermittent sparse bloom until fall

Color:

White flowers, dark green foliage

This vigorous spreader grows into a dense carpet of green foliage topped with dainty white flowers. The tough habit stands up to light foot traffic, making this a good choice in between stepping stones. Use in containers and window boxes, in the front of a border, on a slope, or in a rock garden. In milder climates, the foliage is evergreen year-round, developing a bronzed color during winter months.

Photo by: Chris Forbes / Alamy Stock Photo

‘Icicle’
Spike speedwell, Veronica spicata

Zones:

3-8

Height/Spread:

Mounding upright habit, 20 to 24 inches tall and 12 to 24 inches wide

Exposure:

Full sun

Bloom Time:

Early-late summer

Color:

Pure white flowers, medium green foliage

The tall stature makes a statement in a large-scale landscape when massed in a mixed or cottage-style border. Contrast the clean white flower color with hotter hues, or combine with cooler shades of lavender, pink and blue. The long, elegant flower spikes make good cut flowers.

LANDSCAPING TIPS

There are many ways to incorporate this reliable perennial into any landscape. Here’s how:

  • Use groundcover or dwarf types in a rock garden in combination with alpine plants such as columbine, sedum, dianthus, thyme and creeping phlox.
  • Alternate groundcover and dwarf varieties with different bloom times along the edge of a border or path for months of extended color.
  • To create a living pathway, place stepping stones 6 to 9 inches apart and plant the spaces in between with groundcover veronica and other low growers such as creeping thyme, ajuga, creeping Jenny, and Corsican mint.
  • Use trailing varieties in a container, window box, or hanging basket in combination with other plants with colored foliage or summer-blooming flowers for season-long color.
  • White forms make an elegant addition to an all-white garden for a magical illuminating effect on warm summer evenings.
  • Veronica combines well with many other perennials. Possible companions include tickseed, daylily, yarrow, lady’s mantle, salvia, campanula, Shasta daisy, and coral bells. For early-flowering types, combine with spring blooming bulbs such as tulips and daffodils.

RELATED:
Ideas for an Enticing Cottage Garden
Garden Color Schemes

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