SWEET ALMOND VERBENA (ALOYSIA)
While we were at the Arbor Gate this past weekend, a great many folks asked to see the plants we’ve been profiling the past few GardenLine Email Tips. Besides the Bahama Bay Hibiscus and besides the Gold Duranta, the most-requested plant had to be the Sweet Almond Verbena (Aloysia). So, since I’m in the middle of Plant Profiles for the next few weeks, I thought this week’s profile could be a re-issue of the Sweet Almond Verbena we did from last year.
In the world that is my job of answering gardening questions, at times I'm wildly entertained how one topic can take on a life of its own. Here's a minor example from the show just two weeks ago, and a fun way to give you an e-mail tip on a plant that I'm a big fan of. A call to the radio show asked about an idea for a 'fragrant' plant. I suggested a couple, but I honed in on the Aloysia Sweet Almond Verbena (Almond Verbena for short).
Since that idle mention, there have probably been over 20 e-mails asking "What was the name of that "fragrant" plant you love so much?"
Interestingly, I've always wanted to do a tip sheet on this, because I've taken pictures of it in my own backyard. So, I guess after all the interest after that one mention on the air, it's time to make an official e-mail tip on this spectacular plant.
Obviously, the first remarkable attribute are the wonderfully fragrant blooms. In fact, other than the Night Blooming Cereus, not many other fragrant plants sweeten up the air to the extent that Almond Verbena does, and it is a very sweet smell too.
Once the Almond Verbena starts blooming, it will keep blooming day and night from late spring through to the first freeze with repeated clusters of white flowers that attract butterflies and bees. And, yes, it can take our winters around here. While it may shed its leaves during the heart of winter, it seems to always come roaring back by spring time. While I have both of mine in pots so that they can sit on my patio, the ones in landscaping can become drought tolerant once established.
I've fed it a number of things and it seems to like them all. So, as long as you feed it at least a 1-2-1 ratio fertilizer it should respond well. I've used Nelson's Color Star with great success as well. You're likely never to find this plant at big box store nurseries. In fact, the wholesale grower locally known as Treesearch Farms is the prolific grower of this perennial shrub, and as such they only sell to independent nurseries and garden centers in the Houston area.
So, with that in mind, if you have a good relationship with your favorite nursery and/or garden center, ask them if they can order this spectacular plant from Treesearch Farms for you. I've seen it at Buds and Blossoms in Cypress and The Arbor Gate in Tomball.
Lastly, while this is not the only "fragrant plant" for your gardening needs, do a little Google searching and you'll be impressed with how many plants you can incorporate for fragrant gardening. The other plant that I casually mentioned two weeks ago, and that you can find at just about every garden center in town is the Sweet Olive.
Until next issue, here's to Great Gardening from the GardenLine, heard exclusively, 6-10 a.m. Saturdays and 7-10 a.m. Sundays, only on NewsRadio 740 KTRH.
Be sure to check out Randy's Event Page to see where else Randy will be for the next few weekends. Bring your plants, bugs, and diseases for identification purpose.