Verbascum mullein

Height 90cm-1.8m (3-6ft)

Planting distance 30-60cm (1 -2ft)

Flowers late spring to early autumn

Ordinary well-drained soil

Sunny site

Hardy biennial

Mulleins are stately plants, excellent for growing at the backs of borders, in groups in island beds or in wild gardens. The spikes of yellow flowers are carried 90cm-1.8m (3-6ft) high above rosettes of white-felted leaves, and appear between late spring and early autumn.

Popular species

Verbascum bombyciferum has silvery branching stems covered with sulphur-yellow flowers be-tween early to mid summer. It reaches 1.2-1.8m (4-6ft) high and the plants should be grown 45-60cm (18-24in) apart. ‘Silver Lining’ has pale yellow flowers.

Verbascum. Phlomoides has spikes of clustered creamy-white flowers between late spring and early autumn and oblong, grey woolly leaves. This 1.8m (6ft) high species is most suitable for wild gardens where, left alone, it self-seeds easily. Plant 45cm (18in) apart.

Verbascum phoeniceum bears spikes of flowers in shades of white, pink and purple from late spring to early autumn. Its dark green leaves are arranged in a rosette around the base of the plant. Reaching 1.05-1.35m (3-½ – 4-1/2ft) high, this species is usually grown as an annual and planted 38-45cm (15-18in) apart. A hybrid strain, ‘Choice Mixed’ grows only 60cm (2ft) high and bears white, pink, salmon, mauve and blue flowers.

Verbascum thapsus, a native of Britain, has spikes of yellow flowers from early to late summer and toothed leaves covered with white woolly hairs. It reaches 90cm (3ft) high and should be planted 30cm (1ft) apart, ideally in a wild garden.


Sow the seeds of biennial species in mid spring in pans of seed com-post and place in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings and plant them 15cm (6in) apart in nursery rows outdoors, finally moving the plants to their flowering site in early autumn.

Verbascum phoeniceum can be grown as an annual. Sow the seeds under glass in late winter to early spring at a temperature of 13°C (55°F). Prick out the seedlings into boxes and harden off before planting out in mid spring 38-45cm (15-18in) apart.

Grow mulleins in ordinary well-drained soil in full sun. Stake in exposed positions.

Pests and diseases

Trouble free.

22. February 2012 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Annuals, Biennials, Bulbous Plants, Featured Articles | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Verbascum mullein


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