Great or woolly mullein, Verbascum thapsus, is a statuesque biennial with a wide native distribution throughout Europe, north Africa and Asia.
In its first year it produces a rosette of large, silvery leaves that are covered in a dense layer of furry hairs – an adaptation to growing in sunny, free-draining soils. In the second year, a tall, sometimes branched flower spike emerges, bearing short-lived but numerous yellow flowers. It’s a great plant for wildlife – carder bees (Anthidium) use the ‘fur’ on the leaves to build their nests, the flowers attract bees and hoverflies and the foliage serves as a caterpillar food plant.
It’s a good self-seeder, and is often found growing on disturbed soils where the long-lived seeds have been able to germinate. For best results grow Verbascum thapsus in full sun in well-drained, neutral to alkaline soil. It’s best not to crowd it too much with other plants, as it’s easily overcrowded and outcompeted in these situations.
How to grow Verbascum thapsus
South facing, west facing
Position in border
- Sun exposure: Full sun
- Hardiness: Hardy
- Soil type: Chalky / alkaline / well drained / light / sandy
Verbascum thapsus and wildlife
Verbascum thapsus is known for attracting bees, beneficial insects and other pollinators. It is a caterpillar food plant and has nectar/pollen rich flowers.
Attractive to Bees
Attractive to Beneficial insects
Does not attract Birds
Does not attract Butterflies/Moths
Attractive to Other pollinators
Is Verbascum thapsus poisonous?
Verbascum thapsus has no toxic effects reported.
No reported toxicity to Birds
No reported toxicity to Cats
No reported toxicity to Dogs
No reported toxicity to Horses
No reported toxicity to Livestock
No reported toxicity to People