A Gardening Journal
Good Together: Giant Potato Creeper & Tall Verbena
- Published: August 19 2014
The minute flowers of Verbena bonariensis are surprisingly engaging despite their size. The countless lavender petals emerge from hot-pink tubes, which arise from a dense and almost coral-like mass of burgundy and green buds.
The tighty-packed clusters of blooms are at the tips of nearly leafless vertical stems that poke upward two to six feet: high enough to be adjacent to the lower flowers of the Solanum wendlandii. Any one of the potato creeper's flowers is as large as the entire cluster of verbena blooms—and that Solanum flower can be one of dozens in a cluster a foot across.
The difference in scale and habit of the mature plants themselves is also enormous: A happy Solanum wendlandii sprawls and climbs to twenty feet high and wide, and is a thickly-foliaged mass weighing hundreds of pounds—whereas even an enormous and, as it were, buxom Verbena bonariensis plant is an anorexic, near-leafless, but absolutely self-supporting sheaf of stems weighing only ounces.
Regardless, the flowers of both species have nearly identical color schemes: Lavender with accents of pink and burgundy.
Unity of coloring brings this pairing of opposites into genial conversation: Because their palettes have so much in common, these plants' juxtaposition of scale, habit, and texture is enlivening instead of clashing. Each is more interesting because the other is nearby.
Here's how to grow Solanum wendlandii. I'll profile Verbena bonariensis soon.