The spiked speedwell is a wild species that is considered rare. With its striking long flowers it enriches the garden even more.
Profile of spiked speedwell:
Scientific name: Veronica spicata; syn. Pseudolysimachion spicatum
Plant family: plantain family (Plantaginaceae)
Other names: –
Sowing time: late spring
Planting time: late spring
Flowering period: June to September
Soil quality: stony to sandy, moderately nutritious
These information are for temperate climate!
Use in: flowerbeds, group planting, borders, flower garden, natural garden, prairie garden, rock garden
Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 3 (-37 °C / -35 °F)
Bee and insect friendly: Yes
Plant characteristics and classification of spiked speedwell
Plant order, origin and occurrence of spiked speedwell
The spiked speedwell (Veronica spicata) is the best known species of the genus Veronica. It is now assigned to the plantain family (Plantaginaceae), after having been classified for a long time as a figwort (Scrophulariaceae). There has also been and still is confusion about the genus name, so that the plant sometimes appears in trade or literature as Pseudolysimachion spicatum.
The natural distribution area of Veronica spicata extends over almost all of Europe and Turkey to the Caucasus. Typical habitats are nutrient-poor, rather dry and sunny gravel surfaces, dunes, dry or poor grassland. In some countries Veronica spicata is classiefied as “endangered” or “specially protected”.
Characteristics of spiked speedwell
The perennial, herbaceous semi-rosette plant forms upright shoots, which reach a height of 20 to 40 centimeters in the wild species, in some cases even more. The stems are glandularly hairy, in the upper part there are horizontal or upright hairs, the so-called trichomes. Over winter, the above-ground parts of the plant withdraw in order to sprout again in spring.
The stalked, lanceolate leaves of Veronica spicata sit opposite each other on the shoots. The leaf edges are partially and then very slightly serrated to notched.
The pure species shows pink-violet to blue-violet flowers between June and September, which stand together in strikingly long, narrow clusters and attract bumblebees and bees. The long flowering period of the spiked speedwell results from the inflorescences opening gradually from bottom to top. The individual blossoms are only six to eight millimeters wide and consist of four petals each.
The capsule fruits ripen from September, their seeds are spread by the wind or by animals. At suitable locations Veronica spicata likes to seed itself.
Spiked speedwell – cultivation and care
The spiked speedwell prefers full sun, but basically all locations that are not too shady are tolerated.
The ideal soil is very permeable, dry and not too rich in nutrients.
Late spring is considered the best time to plant Veronica spicata, when there is no longer the threat of heavy frosts. If necessary, the soil should first be lightened and made more permeable with gravel, chippings or sand. The optimal planting distance is 20 to 25 centimeters (8 to 10 in), depending on the height of the variety.
Spiked speedwell copes well with short dry periods. However, it does not tolerate waterlogging at all. Water only in hot summer months.
Like all speedwell species, spiked speedwell is not very demanding. It hardly needs any nutrients. Give it a little compost or horn shavings in spring and summer. This ensures the supply of nutrients. Do not use chemical fertilizers, so that you do not overfertilize the plant.
Spiked speedwell are easy to care for as long as they are in the right place. However, it is recommended to cut them back by about a third after flowering. This prevents the seed formation and self-sowing that is stressful for Veronica spicata, the clumps grow more compact, and you can look forward to a second flowering after a few weeks.
By dividing in the spring, the varieties can be propagated most easily – and true to type. In the case of runner-forming species, these can be easily divided. Propagation can also be done by sowing. This is best done in late spring in the field or from March on in the seed tray indoors.
Diseases and pests
Veronica species are generally very robust and healthy. Occasionally a leaf spot disease (Septoria) can occur. Affected plant parts should be cut off and disposed of in the residual waste. Mildew also appears from time to time.
The spiked speedwell is very hardy down to -37 °C / -35 °F. There is no need for any winter protection.
Use in the garden
The plants fit very well in rockeries, gravel and steppe beds or on summer dry, gravelly edges of a wood. There, for example, European Michaelmas daisy (Aster amellus), goldilocks aster (Aster linosyris), Carthusian pink (Dianthus carthusianorum), cypress spurge (Euphorbia cyparissias), pasqueflower (Pulsatilla vulgaris), lamb’s-ear (Stachys byzantina) and feather grass (Stipa) also feel at home. Until flowering, around June, small bulbous flowers look pretty between the freshly sprouting leaves. What the spiked speedwell does not like is when it is pressed too much by bulky and overgrown neighbors, such as the Turkish sage (Phlomis russeliana).
There are white-flowering varieties: Veronica spicata ‘White Jolanda’ blooms until autumn after pruning and, at 60 centimeters (24 in) high, is very impressive, while ‘Icicle’ grows only half as high.
Blue tones show the well-known variety ‘blue fox’, which grows 25 to 40 centimeters (10 to 16 in) high, and ‘blue carpet’, which is with 10 to 20 centimeters (4 to 8 in) height one of the smallest spiked prizes. ‘Red fox’ adorns the beds with bright purple-pink flower clusters on 40 centimeter (16 in) high stems, ‘Pink Dwarf’ and ‘Heatherchild’ reach 30 centimeters (12 in).
A special feature is the ‘Silver Carpet’ cultivar: With its silver-grey, wintergreen foliage it is an attractive eye-catcher almost all year round. In June and July it is joined by the dark blue, approximately 20 centimeters (8 in) high flowers. The plants spread out through runners.