Verbascum bombyciferum 3Silver mullein is an evergreen biennial or short-lived perennial native to Turkey where it grows on dry, rocky hillsides and open woodlands. It belongs to the figwort family (Scrophylariaceae) along with plants like butterfly bush and cape fuchsia. The first year it produces a very large rosette of fuzzy, silvery leaves that adds considerable interest and texture to the garden in both summer and winter. In mid- to late summer of the second year fuzzy stalks four to six feet tall emerges from the rosette of leaves bearing spikes of sulfur-yellow flowers in mid- to late summer. Plants generally self seed in the second year and then die. Although the bloom time is relatively short the plant makes an architectural statement in the garden and is attractive even without flowers. The genus name, Verbascum, is the ancient Latin name for the plant.  The specific epithet, bombyciferum, comes from the Latin words bombyx meaning silk, and fero meaning carry, and refers to the appearance of the leaves.

Type: Biennial or short lived perennial

Bloom: Sulfur yellow flowers carried on spikes in mid- to late summer the second year

Size: 4-6’ H x 3-4’ W

Light: Full sun

Soil: Lean, dry, well-drained

Hardiness: Zones 5-9

Care: Low maintenance

Pests and Diseases: Powdery mildew

Propagation: Seed

Companion plants: Bronze fennel (Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’) euphorbias (Euphorbia spp)

Outstanding Selection: ‘Arctic Summer’ (especially silvery)




By Karen