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How to Grow Speedwell — Veronica

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Veronica, best known as speedwell, is a vigorous, easy-to-grow plant with a rich palette of colors including true blue, violet-blue, pink, and white.

Veronica is a group of long-blooming annuals and perennials. Speedwells grow 12 to 36 inches tall depending on the species. They bear colorful 6- to 8-inch spikes of tiny flowers mostly in summer.

Veronicas have linear to lance-shaped or rounded leaves. Flower spikes are bottlebrush-like with individual blooms 1/2 inch or less across. Most are upright growers but there are a few species that are low-growing and mat-forming.

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Silver speedwell, Veronica incana
Silver speedwell, Veronica incana

Get to know Veronica

  • Plant type: Perennials and annuals
  • Growing Zones and range: Zones 3 to 8
  • Hardiness: Hardy to -30°F (-34°C)
  • Height and width: 6 inches to 3 feet (.9m) or more tall and wide
  • Foliage: Alternate, simple, entire, or toothed, stalkless leaves
  • Flowers: Small outward-facing flowers 1/2-inch across on spires
  • Flower colors: Purple, blue, pink, white
  • Bloom time: Late spring to midsummer
  • Uses: Borders, specimen plant
  • Common name: Veronica, Speedwell
  • Botanical name: Veronica spp.
  • Family: Scrophulariaceae
  • Origin: Most occur in South America, some in Africa, Asia, Australasia, and North America
Gentian blue speedwell,  Veronica gentianoides
Gentian blue speedwell, Veronica gentianoides var. Robusta

Where to plant Veronica

  • Plant Veronica in full sun; speedwell will tolerate light shade, especially in Zones 7-8.
  • Grow Veronica in humus-rich to average soil that is moist but well-drained.
  • Veronica will not tolerate constantly moist conditions, especially in winter.

Veronica uses and companions

  • Use Veronica in a mixed or herbaceous border.
  • Use cushion or mating forming species in a rock garden.
  • Purple flowers combine well with pastel yellow, pink, and white flowers.
  • Good garden companions for Veronica include Coreopsis, Diascia, Geranium Heuchera, Iberis sempervirens, Malva, Sedum.
Veronica longifolia
Veronica longifolia

When to plant Veronica

  • Set Veronica in the garden in spring or fall.
  • Sow seed indoors in late winter; plants will be ready for transplanting to the garden in about 20 days. Cover seed with 1/8 inch of light potting mix.
  • Sow seed at 70° to 75°F (21-24°C); germination will occur in 7 to 14 days.

Planting and spacing Veronica

  • Space Veronica 6 inches to 36 inches (15-91cm) apart depending on the variety.

How to water and feed Veronica

  • Veronica needs abundant moisture; keep the soil moist. Veronica is shallow-rooted and thus not drought-tolerant.
  • Fertilize Veronica every 4 to 6 weeks with an all-purpose fertilizer or work in a slow-release fertilizer in spring.
Spike speedwell, Veronica spicata
Spike speedwell, Veronica spicata

Veronica care

  • Mulch around Veronica to conserve soil moisture.
  • Trim off spent flowers to keep the plant tidy and encourage new blooms.
  • Taller plants may need staking.
  • Cut plants back after they flower; some species may rebloom.
  • Divide Veronica every 3 or 4 years; too many stems will weaken plants.
  • Powdery mildew and leaf spot can sometimes be a problem for Veronica.
Harebell speedwell, Veronica prostrata
Harebell speedwell, Veronica prostrata

Veronica propagation

  • Propagate by dividing the clumps in spring or fall.
  • Take cuttings in late spring or early summer.
  • Sow seeds in late spring or early summer.
  • Veronica seeds will germinate in 15 to 30 days at about 70°F (21°C).

Veronica varieties to grow

  • Veronica austriaca spp. teucrium, Hungarian speedwell: Grows 6 to 24 inches (15-61cm) tall; bears deep blue flowers in 4 to 6-inch long spikes in late spring and early summer; ‘Crater Lake’ is a cultivar with intensely blue flowers.
  • V. gentianoides, gentian speedwell: Species grows to 24 inches tall; bears 10-inch long spikes of pale blue to white flowers in late spring.
  • V. incana, silver speedwell: Mat-forming clumps with deep blue flowers on 10-inch stems; cultivars with pink, rose, and violet flowers.
  • V. longifolia, long-leaved speedwell: Species grows to 4 feet (1.2m) tall; bears dense 10-inch clusters of small lilac-blue flowers in late summer; cultivars ‘Icicle’ bears white flowers, ‘Rosea’ bears pink flowers. ‘Foerster’s Blue’ bears deep blue flowers.
  • V. prostrata, harebell speedwell: low-growing species to 6 inches tall; produces short spikes of starry blue flowers in late spring.
  • V. spicata, spike speedwell: Species grows to 36 inches tall; bears dense 12-inch spikes of purple, blue, pink, or white flowers in early summer; cultivars include ‘Blue Charm’ with pale lavender flowers, ‘Red Fox’ with deep pink flowers, ‘Icicle’ with white flowers.
  • V. ‘Sunny Border Blue’: Hybrid grows to 24 inches tall; bears violet-blue flowers on 7-inch spikes from early summer.
  • V. ‘Waterperry’: Hybrid low, trailing plants with round pale blue flowers in clusters; spring blooming.

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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