Other Common Names: Incense Bush, Sweet Almond Verbena, Verbena
Cold Hardiness: Almond Verbena is an herbaceous perennial or dieback shrub in USDA zone 8 grading
to a large woody shrub or small tree in subtropical or tropical climates, zones 9 to 11.
Foliage: Evergreen, semi-evergreen, or deciduous; opposite or sub opposite; simple; 3O to 4O long; tips acute; bases rounded to broadly acute; scabrous and dark lustrous green above, fuzzy pubescent and
lighter green beneath; leaves are stiff with margins scalloped to nearly serrate and overall undulate; the pinnate veins are impressed above and raised beneath; overall coloration of summer foliage is gray green to medium green, but no fall color develops.
Flower: Dense 4O to 8O long axillary racemes of whorls of tiny white salver form flowers which emit a sweet almond or vanilla-like fragrance; flowers are borne in successive whorls of five; the fragrance is very strong, permeating an sizable zone downwind from a plant; recurrent flushes of flowers occur
almost continuously from spring to fall.
Fruit: Tiny dry nutlets; not ornamental; deadheading is not necessary to maintain bloom.
Stem / Bark: Stems — stiff; medium thickness; four-sided; initially green covered with clear to white fuzzy pubescence; later losing the pubescence and developing numerous lenticels; older branches are
a smooth tan-brown with gray lenticels; Buds — divergent; very small, 1/16O or less; foliose; pubescent; green to brown; flattened beneath where they press against the petiole; Bark — green to brown; often with numerous gray lenticels.
Habit: Aloysia virgata is a moderately coarse textured upright multi-stem shrub with arching secondary branches; in USDA zone 8, plants function best when treated as herbaceous perennials and pruned back to within a few inches of the soil in winter; in zone 9 and milder, A. virgata can be used either as a shrub or limbed up into a small tree; in colder climates it functions as a 3N to 6N annual; plants typically grow 4N to 8N tall as a herbaceous perennials or dieback shrubs, but may reach 15N tall where fully
hardy as woody shrubs or small trees.
Cultural Requirements: Plants grow best in full sun, but will tolerate partial shade; water needs are moderate to low and heat tolerance is high; plants tend to grow over vigorously on fertile sites; this species is at its best when treated as an herbaceous perennial or used as a summer annual in cooler
Pathological Problems: None of a serious nature as yet; with more widespread use some may perhaps develop; spider mites and white flies sometimes infest other Aloysia.
Ornamental Assets: Almond Verbena is a very durable long blooming plant with highly fragrant flowers; it is one of our most reliable plants for floral fragrance in summer landscapes, whether used as an annual, herbaceous perennial or woody plant; attracts butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.
Limitations & Liabilities: Plants tend to be overly vigorous and quickly out grow smaller sites; also, while the flowers are attractive and highly fragrant, the overall form of the plant is rather rough and
a bit unkempt; the foliage is scratchy to the touch, avoid pedestrian contact; attraction of bees can be a problem for those allergic to stings.
Landscape Utilization: Uses vary with region, in southern climes it can serve as patio tree for fragrance or a component of a shrub border; in areas where it is less reliably stem hardy, it might serve
as a robust member of the perennial border or cottage garden; in colder climates, it could be grown as an annual in a fragrance or butterfly garden, or perhaps as a container plant to add perfume to the patio.
Other Comments: This species has not long been encountered in our regional trade, but it is growing rapidly in popularity; regional cold tolerance is poorly defined and many folks underestimate its mature size; the genus name honors the 18th century princess of Parma, Maria Louisa, wife of the King of Spain; the specific epithet means twiggy.
Native Habitat: Argentina.