Saturday, August 21, 2010

Tampa Verbena - Glandularia tampensis

Tampa verbena (Glandularia tampensis) is extremely rare in nature, listed as a state endangered species, and endemic to about a dozen mostly coastal Florida counties in central Florida.  It is not a coastal species, however, but largely confined to moist forested habitats in light gaps and edges.  It seems to prefer areas that are lightly disturbed, such as foot trails and near wind-thrown trees.  Although considered to be a perennial, I have not found individual specimens to be especially long-lived and in nature populations seem to appear and disappear despite stable environmental conditions. 
Thankfully, this beautiful wildflower is extremely easy to propagate and can be used in the home landscape with success - though it will need to be replaced frequently no matter how well you mimic its natural environment.  Tampa verbena remains evergreen as long as temperatures do not dip too far below freezing.  It is weak-stemmed and prone to fall over a bit, but well-grown specimens may stand several feet tall.  The diamond-shaped foliage has toothed margins and the leaf veins are noticably indented.  In addition, it is a bright green in color and quite attractive. 
What makes this plant most attractive, however, is its blooms.  Flowering occurs throughout much of the growing season.  Round heads of bright lavender flowers produce a showy display across the top of the plant, and they are especially attractive to butterflies and other pollinators.  Mature specimens produce multiple stems, so each plant may have numerous heads of flowers in bloom at any one time.  Individual flowers remain open for many days before closing.
Despite its rarity in nature, Tampa verbena is propagated commercially by a number of nurseries and is generally widely available.  In the home landscape, it can be grown successfully in sunny locations if given sufficient moisture and in partly sunny locations as it generally occurs in nature.  It becomes weak and leggy with too much shade.  Use this plant like an annual or short-lived perennial in the landscape and be prepared to replace it often.  I like it best when used in a mix of wildflowers in a woodland edge planting - with species such as woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata), violets (Viola spp.),  Indianpinks (Spigelia marilandica) and such, but it also is an excellent choice for a planter placed in good sunlight, but watered often. 


  1. Craig,
    I may be mistaken, and forgive me if I am. But I thought I heard it mentioned in a lecture that there is scant evidence of this plant reseeding/reproducing on its own in the home landscape. I had this plant growing in a pot the past 2 seasons in my N Pinellas landscape, and it did well seasonally, but it acted like an annual and I decided to not repurchase it any further. Lo and behold, this spring I have several volunteers, one as far as 30' away and the others struggling up through stepping stone margins near the parent. Both areas are disturbed, sunny, mesic "fill" landscape. Just thought I'd report the colonialism. Obviously, a case of the seed finding "right plant, right place". BWilkins

  2. Very interesting to know. Obviously, it reproduces by seed in the wild. I've just not ever had it happen in my landscape -nor in those of others I know. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I believe that I have this plant or a close cousin in my yard. I purchased a single plant or two from Native Nurseries in Tallahassee about 20 years ago. Mine has reseeded since that time; I need to transplant some now, as they are being overwhelmed by other plants.!i=1811383375&k=hXgcmZc&lb=1&s=A

  4. What is the difference between Tampa Verbena and Homestead Verbena??? Homestead Verbena has several varieties on a site I was on.

    1. Homestead Purple is listed as a cultivar of Verbena canadensis, which grows wild throughout the southeast, including all of Arkansas, and ranges as far north as Zone 5 in Iowa. The species is a perennial, but a temperamental one that is very particular about its exposure and drainage, especially during the winter. It may well a hybrid between V. canadensis and another wild species found in the Arkansas region. It is not native to FL, but has been used here with some success. Tampa verbena is a Glandularia - a closely related genus. It is more upright, less long-lived, and seems to perform best in part sun or filtered sun - not often in full sun unless it gets some extra moisture.


Please let me know if this site and the various postings have been useful to you.