The more than 450 species strong plant genus Veronica is, based on its botanical name, also known under the name Veronika. In the past it formed its own plant family, the Veronicaceae, but for some years now it has been assigned to the Plantaginaceae family. It can be found mainly in Europe in rocky hills, boulders, dry grasslands and open woods, but also on damp meadows, grasslands or in damp marshes you can find some species of perennials. Depending on the species, this easy-care prize flowers from spring to autumn and is perfect as a cut flower. Because of the enormous colour effect, varieties from white to pink and red to deep blue are often offered as seasonal summer plants for tubs and boxes.
Appearance and growth
The different types of Veronicas can be between 20 and 200 centimeters in size. Depending on the species and variety, the leaves can be stalked or short and are elongated to rounded or linear to broadly lanceolate in shape. The flowering period for high species is usually between July and September, for low species between May and August. The deciduous Great Speedwell (Veronica teucrium) grows upright, is horst-forming and reaches a height of 20 to 60 centimeters. The flowers are in elongated racemes, the leaves are oval and smooth. At 60 to 120 centimeters, the long-leaved prize of honour (Veronica longifolium) is slightly larger, flowering from July to August in brilliant white or bright blue tones. The gentian-leaved prize (Veronica gentianoides), which grows up to 60 centimeters high and blooms from May to June, bears the same colours. From June to August, the Veronica spicata flowers, available in blue, white, purple, pink and even red.
Location and soil
The undemanding summer bloomers usually prefer a sunny spot. The soil requirements can vary depending on the species and variety. High species usually prefer a fresh to moist, nutrient-rich loamy soil. On the other hand, low species need a well-drained and dry soil, which can also be sandy or stony. For example, the approximately 30 centimeter high silver cushion prize (Veronica spicata ‘Silver Carpet’) likes to grow on permeable soils that are not too rich in nutrients. The dwarfs Polster- and Genzian-Ehrenpreis, which bloom in May, prefer a wet soil. The Bach Prize of Honour (Veronica beccabunga), on the other hand, shows completely different preferences: as its name already suggests, the native swamp plant likes to grow on the banks of streams or at garden ponds in water about ten centimeters deep.
Mid May is the best planting time for Veronicas Depending on the individual needs of the species, either add some compost and horn shavings or place a drainage of gravel or sand in the planting hole. The planting distance varies from species to species. The plant label usually provides information about this.
Basically, Veronica is one of the easiest plants to care for in the garden. Highly prized species need support and plenty of compost as fertilizer in spring and autumn. Cut all types of faded parts off regularly. Tip: If you cut the plant back by a third in early summer, you can look forward to a second flower.
Wintering or winter protection
Veronica is completely frost hardy and therefore does not need winter protection.
If one wanted, the entire flowering season from April to September could only be covered by representatives of the genus, which shines predominantly in harmonious shades of blue. But the best thing about the bee and bumblebee magnets is their quality as companions to other plants. The flowering starts with the upholstered and carpet-shaped species. The light blue candle blossoms of the Enzian prize often appear as early as April. It makes an excellent border for a spring border with a teary heart, chamois root and lungwort or as a companion for irises in a farmer’s garden. Its shiny foliage is evergreen, as is the case with many soil-covering species.
In general, the small varieties are well suited to accompany alant, yarrow and stonewort in stone and heather gardens. They can also be used for wildlife management on sunny tree edges. In the rock garden or at the edge of the flower bed, mainly low Veronica species such as Armenian and Lower Speedwell (Veronica armena and Veronica prostrata) bloom in May. Veronica peduncularis is a 15 cm small groundcover in a rock garden.
Important species and varieties
The ‘Knallblau’ variety with its bright, incredibly blue flowers and grass-green leaves, as well as the ‘Königsblau’ seed-propagable variety, are particularly popular in the Grand Prix. Veronica longifolia ‘Schneeriesin’ was bred in 1956 by Karl Foerster. It is a proven variety, about 80 centimeters high.
Veronica longifolia ‘Rosa Töne’ with its 80 centimeters is a good partner for daylilies, lady’s mantle, yarrow or roses. Veronica teucrium is perfect for planting wild shrubs on permeable, calcareous loam soils. Veronica longifolia ‘Pink Damask’ is a beautiful, robust selection by Dutch landscape architect Piet Oudolf. In bright royal blue, ‘Royal Candles Glory’, a compact variety of the Spiked Prize of Honour (Veronica spicata), flatters. A fireworks display of flowers also ignites the variety ‘Heidekind’ in midsummer. Straight as a candle, the bright blue flowering spikes of the proven ‘Blauriesin’ long-leaved prize of honour stand out.
High prize species are generally increased by division in spring. Even low species can best be reproduced by division, but in pure species it is also possible to raise offspring by sowing.
Diseases and pests
All Veronicas are extremely robust and are hardly attacked by pests. Occasionally mildew or leaf spot disease may occur.