Growing Mullein in the Garden

June 27th, 2012

I had a volunteer mullein sprout in a crack in my stone walkway (at the end by some rocks) last year, and despite it being considered a weed by most, I left it, and this year I am rewarded with a great show.

Mullein in the Garden

Why not grow this plant on purpose? Many actually do, it has a variety of uses. One of the uses are the soft leaves, which is how it gets common names such as “wooly”, “feltwort”, “velvet”, and yes “cowboy toilet paper.” The stalks also create excellent spindles for primitive fire making techniques. Various parts of the plant are also used in herbal remedies (teas to soothe sore throats and the like).

But, from where I’m standing, it is just plain pretty. The silver color of the leaves, with their interesting soft texture, the vertical statement of the stalk. It is a very showy plant. It is also adapted to a wide range of soils and does well with very little water or fertilizer. Mine is literally growing out of patio base gravel between cracks between rocks.

It isn’t invasive as most would consider a weed to be, it is easily controlled by mechanical means if it grows somewhere you dislike.

There are cultivars that are specifically not weeds of course, but I like the big great mullein Verbascum thapsus.

These are biennial plants, which means they live for two years. The first year it will just grow a rosette of leaves, storing up energy in its roots, for the massive flower spike push in year two. Then it will die and need to be replanted.

If one sprouts in your garden, maybe don’t weed it, maybe let it grow and see if you like how it looks. Nature sometimes has happy accidents.

4 Responses to “Growing Mullein in the Garden”

  1. Simon Smith  Says:

    I too like this plant, despite it’s unfortunate nickname! I didn’t know that it was used for herbal remedies though – I will have to investigate this.

  2. sensiblegardening  Says:

    Ah verbascums. This is a native plant in my arid area and grows all over our farm. I agree it is quite striking and an excellent source of seed food for the birds in the winter.

  3. Jon  Says:

    Where can I find one? Can I buy them, or do I have to find and transplant one? If so, what is the best mulch to use?

  4. Patrick's Garden  Says:

    I als had the same experience in my teenage garden, I had the same experience. I had no idea where it came from since there we’re any gardens anywhere and I had never seen it before. Had a blast.

Leave a Response

(Email field must be filled in)

Top of page...