Verbascum, otherwise more commonly known as mullein, is a common plant found in gardens and often fields. This easily grown member of the figwort family has a height range of 3 to 6 feet. Considered an herb, verbascum may be either perennial or biennial and produces flowers that are fragrant, often with a scent that is similar to honey.
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Containing over 250 species, verbascum exists in all 50 states as well as most of Canada, according to the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) plants database. Native to Asia and Europe, these plants, which are considered noxious weeds by some and beautiful garden additions by others, are here to stay. All species have the same growth and care requirements.
Sow seeds in the fall or after the last frost of spring if you are planting directly in the garden. Start seeds indoors in peat or other plantable pots set the plants out in the spring, again after the frost danger is past. Most verbascum will not flower until the second year after planting, although some will bloom the first year.
Plant verbascum seeds shallowly with plenty of room between them, using a soil that will retain moisture but that drains well so the seed will not rot. Once plants are established, they will tolerate nearly any soil, from clays to sand-based. Verbascum, once established, does better in poorer and drier soils, however, because rich soils tend to hold too much moisture that can damage or even kill the plants.
Until the plants are established, verbascum needs regular watering. Water seeds thoroughly when planted and until established but be careful not to overwater, because this can kill the plant. Once the plants are established, they are fairly drought tolerant and require little watering.
Plant verbascum in full sun whether you are planting seed directly in the garden, transplanting seed started in pots or replanting established plants. Verbascum will not grow in shade and requires six continuous hours or more of unfiltered sun daily to do well.
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