How to Grow Sand Verbena — Abronia

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Abronia–commonly called sand verbena–is a trailing perennial or annual that bears dense, verbena-like round-topped clusters that can be pink, rose-pink, or purple. Abronia resembles verbena but is not a true verbena.

Abronia is a perennial in mild-winter regions of the Western United States where it is a native. It can be grown as an annual where winters are cold.

Low-growing Abronia is an effective edging for walkways and borders. Because it trails, Abronia can be used in hanging baskets or window boxes or as a potted plant near the edge of balconies. Abronia can be grown in seaside gardens in sandy and dry soil.

Abronia is a genus of about 35 species native to Arizona, Nevada, Southern California, and Baja California.

Get to know Abronia

  • Plant type: Herbaceous annuals and perennials
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 8-10
  • Hardiness: Hardy to Zone 8
  • Height and width: 2 to 6 inches (5-15cm) tall and 4 to 6 inches (10-15cm) wide
  • Foliage: Mid- to dark green ovate to ovate-linear freshy leaves
  • Flowers: Fragrant verbena-like flower clusters about 2-inches across, individual flowers are 1/2 inch across
  • Bloom time: Summer
  • Uses: Grow in front of a border or trailing in a rock garden; hanging basket, window box
  • Common name: Sand verbea
  • Botanical name: Abronia
  • Family name: Nyctaginaceae
  • Origin: Western North America, coastal and desert regions
Sand Verbena, Abronia villosa

Where to plant Abronia

  • Plant Abronia in full sun.
  • Grow Abronia in moderately fertile, sandy soil.
  • Abronia can take plenty of sunshine and so is a good choice for rock gardens or seaside gardens. It grows well in light, sandy, rather dry soil.

When to plant Abronia

  • Set container-grown Abronia in the garden in spring after the last frost.
  • Sow seeds outdoors after the last frost in spring or start seeds indoors 6 weeks before the last frost.

Planting and spacing Abronia

  • Space Abronia 6 to 9 inches (15-23cm) apart.

How to water and feed Abronia

  • Water Abronia moderately during the growing season; water sparingly in winter.
  • Fertilize Abronia with a balanced liquid fertilizer in spring.

Abronia care

  • Grow Abronia as an annual where winters are harsh.

Abronia pests and diseases

  • Downy mildew, rust, and leaf spot can occur.

Abronia propagation

  • Sow Abronia seeds indoors in spring about six weeks before the last frost is due.
  • In dry regions, in Zones 9-10, seeds can be sown outdoors in fall

Abronia varieties to grow

  • Abronia villosa. Trailing annual grows to 2 inches tall and 6 inches wide with ascending mid to dark green leaves; round,fragrant, purple to rose-pink flowers in dense verbena-like heads.
  • A. umbellata. Grows to 6 inches tall; dense, round-topped flwoer clusters about 2 inches across.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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