Sun exposure:
Full sun
South facing, west facing
Position in border:
Front, middle


Chalky / Alkaline / Well Drained / Light / Sandy

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.

Verbascum and wildlife

Verbascum is known for attracting bees, beneficial insects and other pollinators. It is a caterpillar food plant and has nectar/pollen rich flowers.

Is known to attract Bees
Is known to attract Beneficial insects
Beneficial insects
Is not known to attract Birds
Is not known to attract Butterflies/​Moths
Is known to attract Other pollinators
Other pollinators

Is Verbascum poisonous?

Verbascum has no toxic effects reported.

No reported toxicity to:
Is not known to attract Birds
Is not known to attract Cats
Is not known to attract Dogs
Is not known to attract Horses
Is not known to attract Livestock
Is not known to attract People
Plants that go well with Verbascum thapsus