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Annual Biennial

Verbascum thapsus
  • RHS Plants for pollinators

great mullein

V. thapsus is an erect biennial forming a rosette of large grey-hairy ovate leaves in its first year, with an erect stem bearing a succession of light yellow, saucer-shaped flowers 3cm across in the second year

Other common names
Aaron's rod
ag leaf
see morebeggar's blanket
blanket leaf
bullock's lungwort
candlewick
clown's lungwort
common mullein
cow's lungwort
duffle
feltwort
flannel
flannel leaf
flannel plant
fluffweed
hag taper
hag's taper
hare's beard
hedge taper
high taper
Jupiter's staff
king's taper
lady's candles
lady's foxglove
light of the Lord
lucernaria
mullein dock
old man's flannel
rag paper
shepherd's club
torch lily
torches
velvet dock
velvet plant
white mullein
woollens
woundweed
Adam's flannel [2]
felt [2]
Jacob's staff [2]
lamb's wool [3]
velvet leaf [2]

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Size
Ultimate height
1.5–2.5 metres
Time to ultimate height
1–2 years
Ultimate spread
0.1–0.5 metres
Growing conditions
Chalk
Loam
Sand
Moisture
Well–drained
pH
Alkaline
Colour & scent
StemFlowerFoliageFruit
Spring Grey Silver
Summer Yellow Grey Silver
Autumn
Winter
Position
  • Full sun
Aspect

North–facing or East–facing or South–facing or West–facing

Exposure
Sheltered
Hardiness
H6
Botanical details
Family
Scrophulariaceae
Native to the UK
Yes
Foliage
Deciduous
Habit
Columnar upright
Genus

Verbascum can be annuals, biennials, perennials or subshrubs mostly with hairy leaves and 5-petalled, saucer-shaped flowers

Name status

Correct

Plant range
Eurasia

How to grow

Cultivation

Suitable for herbaceous border and gravel garden. Grow in poor alkaline well-drained soil

Propagation

Propagate by seed or division in spring

Suggested planting locations and garden types
  • Cottage and informal garden
  • Wildlife gardens
  • Wildflower meadow
  • Low Maintenance
  • Flower borders and beds
Pruning

No pruning required

Pests

May be attacked by caterpillars and figwort weevil

Diseases

May be subject to powdery mildews

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