Verbascum Plants

Overview

Verbascum is of the scrophulariaeceae or Figwort family. Verbascum's common name is mullein. It is considered a perennial or biennial herb, as the fragrant honey-like flowers can be dried and used in potpourri. This tall, stately flower is hardy in USDA Plant Hardiness zones 4 to 8 and, depending on the variety, can grow anywhere from 3 to 6 feet tall. It is easy to grow and the tall flower spikes and silvery velvet foliage add a striking backdrop to the rear of the garden or a naturalized setting.

Characteristics

Verbascum is noted for its tall flower spikes and large silver-gray velvety leaves. The flowers are 5-petaled and either yellow (Verbascum thapsus) or white (Verbascum chaixii). Verbascum thapsus is often called Aaron's rod or Great Mullein. The first year of growth yields the plant's large, gray leaves. The second year, the flower spikes appear during the summer months.

Where to Plant

Choose a site with well-drained, sandy soil. Verbascums prefer dry soils after they've become established. Full sun is recommended.

How to Plant

Seeds can be sown in either the spring after the last frost, or in the fall. Make sure the seeds are covered with a thin layer of soil and watered regularly. Container-grown plants can be planted in the spring. If planting more than one, space them at least 2 feet apart. Dig a hole to accommodate your plant. Set it in the hole, and backfill with soil. Compact the earth and water generously. Water regularly until established.

Care

Verbascums do not need regular fertilizing. They are very heat and drought tolerant, so minimal watering is needed once the plants become established. Add a thin layer of mulch around the base of the plant over the winter. Verbascums will not tolerate being transplanted, but they will self-sow if the flowers remain on the plant after blooming.

Uses

Verbascums make stunning additions in a wildflower garden or meadow setting, especially when planted alongside ornamental grasses. If using the plant in a perennial garden or border, place it in the back of the garden. Because of its gray leaves, verbascum makes an ideal companion plant to catmints and other purple perennials. The flowers can be dried for floral arrangements or used in potpourri, as they are honey-scented.

Keywords: growing verbascum, verbascum planting, care and planting verbascum

About this Author

Sonia Acone is a full-time freelance writer in northeast Pennsylvania. She has been published by The Wild Rose Press and is currently writing children's picture books, as well as online content and book reviews for the Picnic Basket.com. She holds a bachelor's degree in English and professional writing.