If you are a gardener with limited time, choosing carefree plants is key to a low-maintenance yard. Speedwell (Veronica) plant is a tough ornamental plant 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.

Furthermore, there are about 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.

The plant basic information

Hardness Zones: 3-9

The Height/Spread: three to 48 inches tall, eight to 24 inches wide

The plant Exposure: Veronica blooms best with at least six hours of full sun, but can tolerate partial shade.

The Blooming time: The Blooming time is from spring to fall.

The Color and characteristics: The flowers come in purple, blue, 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.

How to grow Speedwell plant

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.

How to care for Speedwell plant

The 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.

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

Fertilizer application: 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 of plant: Water once a week during summer, or more as needed during hot spells.

Diseases and pests control: 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: Speedwell plant tends to be deer-resistant, though extreme conditions can result in deer grazing on plants they wouldn’t otherwise.

Tips on how to choose the right Veronica

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

     1. For slopes, walls and bedding displays: Use varieties with a vigorous spreading habit to cover large areas.

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

    4. For mixed borders: Combine upright varieties with other summer-blooming perennials and shrubs.

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