Veronica spicata

close up af native bee on purple Veronica spicata
Veronica spicata

Veronica spicata, or Speedwell

Veronica, also known as Speedwell, is a pretty little low-growing perennial plant that puts up spikey flower stems that bloom from the bottom up, on a fairly long stem. The spikey flower stems offer some texture in a bouquet with their unopened buds along the stem looking like pretty little rows of dots in a bouquet.

The flowers are attractive to bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. The plant is from northern Europe and Asia.

USDA zones 3-8     

Flowers

Veronica sports flower spikes up to about 6” long in blues, white, purples, and a variety of pinks. Their flower heights depend on variety with the best ones for cutting flowers ranging from 16” to 30” tall.

They bloom early in late spring and with deadheading will repeat blooming sporadically through the summer.

Plants

Most of the plants stay at about 6” tall and spread to up to 2’ wide. But there is one exception, a particularly tall species of Veronica, Veronica longifolia, but more on that one in Favorite Varieties.

Veronica spicata plant with flower stems
Veronica spicata plant with flower stem

Growing

Plant veronica in full sun or it can take a little shade.  Easy to grow in well-drained, average to amended garden soil. Cut back flower stems to keep the plant producing more.

Seed for veronica are available. They have a fairly long germination time. I have never started them from seed. I like starting with plants in 4” pots, they are much quicker and so many varieties are available from online nurseries.         

Some sources claim veronica is deer resistant and rabbit resistant. I can’t vouch for that. I think it always has to do with the deer is in your area. But if you dare grow them outside of deer fencing, they do make a pretty perennial flower garden plant. After deadheading, the plant looks tidy and not cut up.

Harvesting

Harvest the flowers when the lowest flowers have started to open. Cut them at the bottom of the stem. Post-harvest is simply to place in cool water, or warm water and then condition in a cool dark place.

Favorite Varieties

I simply go for the colors I like on the longest stems. Some favorites for blue are ‘Royal Candles’, at 12-18” and ‘Blue Skywalker’ at 28-30”.

For white I like ‘White Icicle’, at 18-26”. And for pink, or rose colored, there’s ‘Red Fox’, at 18-26”.

My absolute favorite veronica of all is not a V. spicata but a V. longifolia., variety ‘Bushy Boy’. It grows to 3’ tall (!!) and 2 ½’ wide, and produces loads of blue cut flowers. Now the flower stems aren’t 3’ long, but the plant overall is and it has a shrubby size overall. It dies back for the winter. But mid-summer the plant can be cut way back to 8”, side-dressed with compost and it will grow back to flower again.

How Many Plants

Between one and three of each color would give you lots for flowers for bouquets.

Always remember the ‘Rule of Three’. If you plant one, it’s ok. But if you want more than one, plant three at a minimum. This is because subconsciously our eyes like to see repetition. And if there are two our eyes tend to divide and want to see symmetry. If your garden doesn’t have symmetry, only formal styles do, our eye will want to see odd numbers. That satisfies the need for repetition. 

Always think of this when you buy plants, especially for use in the landscape. Five is good, and even six is good because you have two groups of three, but it’s best if the three are spread apart from each other.

Sources

Many online and brick and mortar nurseries carry Veronica spicata in the spring. Ask your local nursery if they can get some in, demand usually inspires supply.

I always recommend that you buy from your local sources, it is the best thing for keeping local economies strong and that benefits everyone.

But when you can’t find what you need, there are many excellent online/mail order nurseries around.

bluestoneperennials.com is one that has many of my favorite cutting flowers. They have a nice selection of Veronica spicata varieties.

For the Veronica longifolia, the only place I have ever seen it is at Annie’s Annuals and Perennials.