How to plant verbascums

Also known as mulleins, verbascums are graceful hardy perennials bearing statuesque flower spikes and large rosettes of long greyish-green leaves with a felt-like appearance. Individually sporting between one and several stems, these floriferous plants are excellent value for money and can be used to bring architectural interest to the cottage or modern garden. Try mixing with echinaceas, heleniums, geraniums, heucheras, nepetas, salvias and phloxes for a tapestry of colour.

Plant in alkaline, poor to well-drained soil in full sun. Thanks to their short strong stems, verbascums can hold their own against summer winds. Cut back spent flowers to the base of the plant and protect from winter wet. Divide overcrowded clumps as needed in spring.

Verbascums are supplied in 9 cm pots. Always unpack on arrival and store in a cool place until ready to plant.

Potential problems, pests and diseases:

  • Caterpillars: these larvae feed on a wide range of plant material including roots, stems, foliage and flowers, causing both aesthetic and structural damage. Whenever possible, put on gardening gloves and remove by hand. Alternatively, cover susceptible plants with a layer of horticultural fleece to prevent any risks of infestation.

  • Figwort weevils/larvae: these small beetles and slug-like larvae cause aesthetical damage by feeding on leaves and flowers. Whenever possible, pick off by hand using gloves.

  • Powdery mildews: these fungal diseases usually caused by planting in the shade or by poor air circulation can be seen in the form of white, powdery coating on the leaves. Cut off any infected material before disinfecting your scissors.
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