Almond verbena | Daphne Richards | Central Texas Gardener

Hi I’m Daphne Richards. Our question this week is on pruning flowering vines. Kathy Faul from Moody, sent us these pictures of her lovely coral honeysuckle. Which has been going gangbusters this year. The vine was gift from a generous bird, says Kathy, and she transplanted it to this location on her patio. Each year the hummingbirds flock to the nectar of its flowers and it becomes home to nesting birds, including cardinals and mockingbirds. When deciding when to prune, Kathy carefully balances the needs of the wildlife with her own needs to have a beautiful, well-kept landscape. Pruning only lightly and when absolutely necessary, Kathy illustrates a great point. As with most vines, coral honeysuckle does require regular pruning to keep it in check. But when and how will not only depend upon the plant’s growth, but on your personal preferences. You can either leave the vine shrubby and a bit wild for most of the growing season, or you can shear it back into shape regularly, to give it a more refined appearance. It’s best to do any hard pruning in the late fall or winter, once flowering is done and the birds have eaten most of the berries. As they move into dormancy, winter is the best time to get flowering vines back into shape and prepare them for new spring growth next season. By their very nature, vines are rampant growers, so you’ll need to stay on top of any errant runners and offshoots in the early spring. Just prune those all the way back to the ground if you don’t want your vine taking over any new garden real estate. Vigorous vining plants such as coral honeysuckle also produce offshoots all during the summer, so if you want to keep your vines in bounds you’ll need to make a regular visit to the garden with your pruning shears. This is the price we have to pay in exchange for all that boundless expansion of plants that grow this easily, because they’ll quickly take over if you don’t watch out. Our plant this week is almond verbena, Aloysia virgata. This large shrubby plant is an absolute must for anyone who loves fragrance in the garden. Almond verbena should be planted in full sun or only light shade and given plenty of room to grow. This plant does get very tall, usually very quickly. My experience has been in the range of ten to twelve feet tall and about three to four feet wide. Listed as hardy to zone 8 and most warm climates, almond verbena will be deciduous, especially in mild winters. But even if it doesn’t die back to the ground, it will perform best if you treat it as you would other root-hardy perennial shrubs, shearing it back to the ground in late winter. This hard pruning forces almond verbena to put on all new growth, making it fuller, greener and bushier. Be sure to plant near a patio or porch to get the full effect of its strong but lovely, delicately sweet fragrance. Almond verbena is a repeat bloomer, usually from late spring, all the way through fall. Maybe taking a break during the hottest time of an extremely hot, dry summer. And when in flower, bees, butterflies, and humming birds will be attracted to it like magnets. A little light pruning in mid summer can re-invigorate the plant for fall growth. Plant almond verbena in well drained soil and water sparingly, but regularly. Once a week watering should be fine, and fertilizer is not needed. Our viewer picture this week is from Charlotte Trussell, near San Antonio, who’s overwhelmed with excitement to have this pair of beautiful bluebirds nesting in the yard. Thanks Charlotte! For timely garden tasks, and monthly to do lists, and to send us questions and pictures from your garden, please check out our newly designed website at We’d love to hear from you.

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