Posted by Aaron Barton on Mar 4th 2023
With countless spires of blooms buzzing with pollinators, Veronica (veh-RON-ih-ka), or speedwell, is a summer garden favorite perfect for adding vertical interest and lasting, deer and rabbit resistant color to sunny spaces. A member of the plantain family, Plantaginaceae, commonly offered Veronica are often cultivars of the Asia and northern Europe native spiked speedwell, Veronica spicata.
Speedwell is perfect for sunny borders, pollinator gardens, and rock gardens among other spaces, producing dense mounds of stiff lance-like, opposite green leaves maturing to 12-36” tall and 18-24” wide. Veronica bloom from early summer through late summer, sending up dense tapered foxtail-like racemes or spikes of numerous star-shaped flowers in shades of blue, purple, pink, and white that bloom from the bottom up.
Plant speedwell in full sun areas with moist, well-drained soils and avoid wet sites. Drought tolerant, care should be taken to avoid overwatering established Veronica plants, and overhead irrigation should be avoided to prevent development of powdery mildew. Trim plants back after blooming to promote a bushier habit and encourage reblooming. Popular cultivars include the mid-sized rosy pink spikes of ‘Red Fox’ and blue-violet spikes of ‘Ronica Blue.’
Numerous interspecific hybrids offer unique spins on speedwell’s classic appearance as well, including ‘Pure Silver,’ with lavender blooms and silver foliage, and ‘Blue Bomb,’ with unique clustered blooms of branched white and blue spikes. Cultivars of the taller garden or longleaf speedwell, Veronica longifolia, are also excellent for adding height and structure, including the mildew-resistant pink of ‘Vernique Rose’ and deep purple-blue color of ‘Vernique Blue.’
Additionally, numerous prostrate, or creeping Veronica hybrids are perfect as sunny groundcovers for low borders, retaining walls, and rock gardens. These hybrids showcase low-growing green foliage topping out at around 3-4” tall, blooming in late spring and early summer with a flush of four-petaled blooms, including the popular ‘Tidal Pool’ with white-eyed soft blue blooms, tolerant of light infrequent foot traffic. These hybrids benefit from splitting every three years or so to keep clumps dense and packed with blooms.