Not as well known as its sibling Verbena bonariensis but there is every reason it should be. Verbena rigida is a dazzling, upright herbaceous perennial that packs a punch of bright vivid colour.
Named after its stiff, upright habit, its rough, square stems are almost leafless and hold aloft candelabras of glowing pinky-purple puffs of flowers. Plants are a mass of blooms from June until September and are loved by bees, butterflies and other beneficial pollinating insects. Perfect for the front of a border, it is great planted en masse as a low hedge running along a path or the front of a border but is also lovely in clumps, intermingling with other perennials and grasses - something it will do effortlessly if left to its own devices, as it self-seeds liberally.
It is fantastic in a hot border at the end of summer with zingy, orange geums, yellow achilleas or heleniums and bright dahlias, but just as delightful floating though grasses in wilder or more informal displays. Verbena thrives in a sheltered, sunny spot but also copes well with some shade. It needs a light, well drained soil and once established is fairly drought tolerant. But if you have a garden with wet, heavy soil, it is best treated as an annual as the cold winter wet will see it off.
Once plants have finished flowering leave the old stems where they are until spring, to protect the new, young growth and prevent plants from dying back, and give them a mulch with dry leaf mould or compost in the autumn to protect the roots. Cut plants down as shoots appear in mid-spring. Verbena rigida is easily grown from seed in the spring, although plants probably won't flower until September in their first year.