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Attracting Bees and Butterflies with the Lovely, Low-maintenance Veronica (Speedwell) Plant


Shade cloth in greenhouse

It’s January, and I’m starting to feel the excitement of planning projects and plants for this year’s garden.


My approach to gardening is this: research the best conditions for a plant (sun, water needs, etc.), try lots of different plants, and then buy more of the ones that thrive! I love being in my garden and planting, watering and puttering around; but I don’t love struggling with plants that just aren’t going to do well in my specific yard conditions.


Each year I start making a list of “buy again” and “don’t buy again” so I don’t get carried away when the nurseries open in the spring. This leads me to today’s topic: the plant Veronica, also known as Speedwell. It’s on the “buy again” and the “buy lots more” lists.


I wasn’t familiar with it until a couple of years ago when I saw it in my local nursery. It has pretty purple flower spikes and thrives in both full sun and partial shade (which is 90% of my yard). I bought three for one of my raised beds to see how they’d do. They did just okay the first year, so I didn’t have high hopes. They didn’t bloom well and just didn’t really look that good.


But then - next spring they came back so strong and healthy! They just needed a year for their roots to really settle in and grow strong. And the grouping of three plants was large enough to draw your eye to them and really notice them.


Every single time I walked over and took a look, happy little bees and butterflies were buzzing in and out of the spires, landing on the little flowers. I can’t remember when the plants started to fade, but it was well into summer. They started blooming in spring, so they were blooming for a good 2-3 months.


I watered them during dry spells, but they never looked droopy. They are considered drought-tolerant and low maintenance, and that was my experience. I never needed to pay too much attention to them.


You’re probably starting to see why I want more of these. And the list of positive traits just keeps going: in addition to being perfect for a pollinator garden, they are perennial and come back each year, they do great in well-draining containers, they are resistant to pest and disease, they are hardy, and they tolerate a variety of soil conditions including dry and sandy.


Flower colors come in purple, blue, pink, and white. One of the keys to creating a beautiful garden is repetition. That is, repeating key plants throughout the garden to provide a sense of cohesive design and good balance. I believe Veronica is going to be one of these plants for me.

 

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