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White verbena is known as "Paris primrose" or "Madagascar primrose". It forms a colony of dense, low growing, tuber-like perennials, reaching up to one foot in height. The green leaves are profusely spread about the upper two thirds of the plant, solitary beneath. The flowers are small, bright purple-from lavender to deep purple-tipped, and are borne in profusion on slender stalks. The rootstock is branching.The native White Vervain occurs in every county of Illinois and it is quite common (see Distribution Map). Habitats include open disturbed woodlands, woodland borders, thickets, powerline clearances in wooded areas, semi-shaded areas along paths, damp meadows along streams, gravelly seeps, and abandoned fields. White Vervain is usually found in habitats with a history of disturbance. It is somewhat weedy, but rarely forms colonies, existing primarily as scattered individual plants.
Considering the large size of this plant, its flowers are remarkably small. The lanky branches of the inflorescence are rather long, however, and they sprawl in different directions. This makes the inflorescence difficult to photograph in its entirety. The scientific name of this plant refers to the resemblance of its leaves to those of Urtica spp. (nettles). White Vervain resembles two of its relatives, Verbena hastata (Blue Vervain) and Verbena officinalis (European Vervain). Blue Vervain has more narrow leaves and its flowers are conspicuously blue, rather than bright white. It is found in sunny wetland habitats more often than White Vervain. European Vervain has small flowers that are white or lavender. It differs from White Vervain primarily by its pinnatifid leaves, which have cleft lobes.Each species is different, so be sure to check the GERMINATION CODE listed on the website, in the catalog, or on your seed packet. Then, follow the GERMINATION INSTRUCTIONS prior to planting. Some species don't need any pre-treatment to germinate, but some species have dormancy mechanisms that must be broken before the seed will germinate. Some dormancy can be broken in a few minutes, but some species take months or even years.
Growing your own plants from seed is the most economical way to add natives to your home. Before you get started, one of the most important things to know about the seeds of wild plants is that many have built-in dormancy mechanisms that prevent the seed from germinating. In nature, this prevents a population of plants from germinating all at once, before killing frosts, or in times of drought. To propagate native plants, a gardener must break this dormancy before seed will grow.We dig plants when they are dormant from our outdoor beds and ship them April-May and October. Some species go dormant in the summer and we can ship them July/August. We are among the few still employing this production method, which is labor intensive but plant-friendly. They arrive to you dormant, with little to no top-growth (bare-root), packed in peat moss. They should be planted as soon as possible. Unlike greenhouse-grown plants, bare-root plants can be planted during cold weather or anytime the soil is not frozen. A root photo is included with each species to illustrate the optimal depth and orientation. Planting instructions/care are also included with each order. (Source: www.prairiemoon.com)