Growing Guide for Verbascum – Mullein

Verbascum - Perennial Plant, How to grow

Possibly from the Latin barba, a beard, many species have a hairy or downy look (Scrophulariaceae). Mullein. A genus of 300 species of hardy herbaceous plants, mostly biennials or short-lived perennials, from temperate parts of Europe and Asia.

Species cultivated

  • V. blattaria, moth mullein, to 4 feet, flowers yellow or cream, Europe. (including Britain).
  • V. bombyciferum (syns. V. ‘Broussa’, V. ‘Brusa’), biennial, 4-6 feet, stem and leaves covered in silvery hairs, flowers golden-yellow, embedded in silvery hairs, June—July, western Asia Minor.
  • V. chaixii (syn. V. vernale), 3 feet, stems purple, leaves covered with whitish hairs, flowers yellow, June—August, Europe.
  • V. dumulosum, 1 foot, perennial, leaves grey felted, flowers lemon-yellow, May—June, needs a hot, dry place or alpine house, Asia Minor.
  • V. nigrum (syn. V. vernale), normally perennial, 2-3 feet, yellow, blotched reddish-brown, June to October, Europe including Britain.
  • V. olympicum, perennial, 5-6 feet, leaves grey felted, flowers golden, June to September, Bithynia; several cultivars in shades of amber, terracotta, purple and yellow. .
  • V. phoeniceum, purple mullein, 3-5 feet; hybrids available in pink, lilac, purple.
  • V. pulverulenturn, hoary mullein, leaves white hairy, flowers yellow, July, Europe including Britain.
  • V. thapsus, Aaron’s rod, hag taper, to 3 feet, very woolly, flowers yellow summer, Europe, Asia.


Verbascums grow easily in sunny positions and ordinary or chalky soil. The species is propagated by seed sown in light soil outdoors in April. Root cuttings in autumn or winter increase hybrids, some of which are sterile.

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