A favorite plant of hummingbirds and pollinators, mullein attracts the attention of non-winged garden visitors too. This showy cottage garden favorite makes a joyful statement in the early summer garden as it sends up a tall flower spike and then begins to open pretty blossoms in shades of yellow, pink, white, and purple depending on the variety.
Sometimes called verbascum, this group of plants is made up of many different varieties. Most types of mullein are perennials, coming back year-after-year, some plants are biennials and come back for a couple of years, and a few mulleins are annuals. Add several types of mullein to a cottage garden and enjoy their diversity.
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Mullein grows well alongside many kinds of plants. Pair it with peonies, Russian sage, lady's mantle, sedum, coneflower, and ornamental grasses in a perennial planting. Plant annual varieties of mullein in the cutting garden and enjoy armloads of fresh bouquets.
Mullein Care Must-Knows
Easy-to-grow in well-drained soil and full sun, mullein tolerates a wide range of soil conditions including poor, sandy soil. One requirement for good growth is well-drained soil. It does not tolerate wet or poorly drained growing conditions. Start plants from seed planted indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost in spring or sow seeds directly in the garden in late spring. Mullein is also easy to grow from transplants purchased at the garden center. Water plants regularly for the first growing season after transplanting.
Mullein, like many perennials, will produce more blooms if the faded flowers are snipped away. The process of removing faded, or spent, flowers is called deadheading. To deadhead mullein, cut the flower stalk off the plant just below the lowest blossom. Removing the flower stalk spurs the plant to produce new flower buds in an effort to produce seeds for the next generation. The second and subsequent flushes of bloom are often not as bold as the initial one, but ample flowers will continue to unfurl as along as the growing conditions are conducive.
More Varieties Of Mullein
Verbascum thapsus is a biennial often found growing wild in fields and ditches. The yellow flowers are borne at the tips of 6-foot-tall stems. The leaves are gray-green, fuzzy, large, and thick. Zones 3-9.
Verbascum olympicum grows an impressive 6-8 feet tall when in bloom. The first year, it produces a rosette of silvery-gray foliage, which persists through the winter. The following year, it sends up branched candelabra of yellow blooms. Olympic mullein may die after blooming, but it usually self-sows to come back in future years. Grow in well-drained soil. Zones 5-11
'Southern Charm' mullein
This selection of Verbascum is a seed-propagated variety that bears spikes of flowers in shades of lavender, rose, cream, or buff. Peak bloom occurs in late spring, but the plant may bloom sporadically throughout the summer. It is a short-lived, self-seeding perennial that often blooms the first year from seed. Zones 5-8
White nettle-leaved mullein
Verbascum chaixii 'Album' has saucer-shaped white flowers accented with rosy purple stamens. These are carried on long spires, sometimes branched. The woolly stems rise to 3 feet. It is hardy in Zones 5-9.
'Summer Sorbet' mullein
This Verbascum variety bears hot-raspberry-pink blossoms on 24-inch-long stems. It is one of the most floriferous mulleins and continues to bloom all summer if it is deadheaded. The plant grows 12-15 inches wide. Zones 5-9.
Plant Mullein With:
Yarrow is one of those plants that give a wildflower look to any garden. In fact, it is indeed a native plant and, predictably, it's easy to care for. In some gardens, it will thrive with almost no care, making it a good candidate for naturalistic plantings in open areas and along the edges of wooded or other wild places.Its colorful, flat-top blooms rise above clusters of ferny foliage. The tough plants resist drought, are rarely eaten by deer and rabbits, and spread moderately quickly, making yarrow a good choice for massing in borders or as a groundcover. If deadheaded after its first flush of blooms fade, yarrow will rebloom. If left to dry on the plant, flower clusters of some types provide winter interest. Flowers of yarrow are excellent either in fresh or dried arrangements.
Miscanthus is one of the most prized of ornamental grasses, and one particular cultivar, 'Morning Light', sums up much of its appeal: This grass is stunning when backlit by the sun, either rising or setting.Statuesque miscanthus makes dense clumps of arching grassy foliage in an assortment of widths, decoration, and fineness, according to variety. Erect, dramatic plumes of flower spikelets rise among the leaves or well above them and last beautifully through the winter. Site miscanthus with good drainage and plenty of space in sun or light shade.
Daylilies are so easy to grow you'll often find them growing in ditches and fields, escapees from gardens. And yet they look so delicate, producing glorious trumpet-shape blooms in myriad colors. In fact, there are some 50,000 named hybrid cultivars in a range of flower sizes (the minis are very popular), forms, and plant heights. Some are fragrant.The flowers are borne on leafless stems. Although each bloom lasts but a single day, superior cultivars carry numerous buds on each scape so bloom time is long, especially if you deadhead daily. The strappy foliage may be evergreen or deciduous.Shown above: 'Little Grapette' daylily