How to Identify and Harvest Common Mullein (Verbascum Thapsus)

If you’re like me, you love spending time outdoors identifying wildflowers and harvesting their medicinal properties.

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being one with nature, and knowing that you’re getting natural remedies directly from the source!

One plant I enjoy identifying and harvesting is common mullein (Verbascum thapsus).

This herbaceous biennial can be found in overgrown pastures and meadows, on the sides of roads and along the edges of forests, along fence lines, and in vacant lots and industrial zones.

Common Names Mullein, common mullein, wooly mullein (plant); Jacob’s staff, Jupiter’s staff and Aaron’s rod (flower stalks); bunny-s ears, flannel leaf, velvet leaf
Botanical Name Verbascum thapsus
Family Scrophulariaceae
Plant Type Herbaceous biennial / biennial forb (a herbaceous flowering plant that’s not a grass) or short-lived perennial
Mature Size Two to seven feet tall; up to two and a half feet wide
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Poor to average, well-drained
Soil pH Slightly alkaline
Bloom Time Summer
Flower Color Yellow; flowers after two years
Hardiness Zones 3-9 (USDA)
Native Area Europe, northern Africa and Asia

Tips for Keeping Your Plants Healthy:

  • To ensure your plants stay healthy, it’s important to give them the proper care. Here are a few tips:- Mulch around the base of the plant to help retain moisture and keep weeds at bay.- Water regularly, especially during dry periods.
  • Fertilize occasionally with a balanced fertilizer.- Cut back any dead or dying leaves or stems as needed.
  • This will help encourage new growth. With just a little bit of care, you can enjoy these beautiful plants for many years to come!

Lighting and Temperature

Common mullein prefers full sun but can tolerate some shade, especially in hot climates. It is a hardy plant that can withstand cold temperatures and frost.


Soil , water and light requirements Common Mullein (Verbascum Thapsus) grows in overgrown pastures and meadows, on the sides of roads and along the edges of forests, along fence lines, and in vacant lots and industrial zones.

Plants will grow to the ground and develop hairy leaves during their first year. The leaves are gray-green and oblong to lanceolate in shape.


Fertilizer is not necessary for common mullein to grow. In fact, the plant does best in poor soils. It is often considered a weed because it can spread quickly and take over an area.

Common mullein is easy to identify and harvest. The plant grows in open areas such as fields, meadows, and along roadsides.


Pruning the flower stalk after blooming has concluded will encourage mullein to produce more leaves. When harvesting, take only what you need from each plant so that it can continue to grow and prosper. Be sure to wear gloves when handling the plants, as they can cause skin irritation.

Mullein leaves can be used fresh or dried and are most commonly brewed into a tea. The tea is said to have many medicinal benefits, including relief from respiratory ailments such as bronchitis and asthma.

It is also thought to be helpful in treating diarrhea, earaches, insomnia, and even melancholy.


Watering the soil around the base of the plant deeply but infrequently will encourage a strong taproot to develop. If your climate is very hot and dry, mullein may benefit from being grown in partial shade.


Size, shape, and color of leaves are all characteristics to look for when trying to identify Common Mullein. The leaves are generally large, soft, and hairy with a gray-green color.

They are oblong to lanceolate in shape and can be up to 12 inches long and five inches wide. Another identifying factor is the plant’s strong taproot.


Flower occurs in the second year of growth.

The plant produces a stalk that can grow to be two to seven feet tall, and at the top of this stalk are tiny yellow (or sometimes white) flowers arranged in a tight spike. Flowering occurs from June to September.

Common Pests and Plant Diseases

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) is a hardy biennial herb that is native to Europe and Asia. Growing up to six feet tall, mullein has a thick, velvety stalk and large, furry leaves.

The plant produces a yellow flower that blooms in the summertime. Mullein has a long history of medicinal use and is still used today to treat respiratory conditions such as bronchitis and asthma.

The herb is also known for its insect-resistant properties. Aphids are not a common problem on mullein plants, and the leaves have been used as a natural insecticide.

However, mullein should not be planted in densely packed soils because poor drainage can cause root rot. When grown in well-drained soil, mullein is a low-maintenance plant that is tolerant of drought and harsh winters.


Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) is a common biennial herb that is often found growing in disturbed soils, such as along roadsides or in vacant lots. The plant has a tall, stout stem that is usually covered with dense woolly hair.

The leaves are large and oval-shaped, and the flowers are small and yellow, borne on spikes that can be up to two feet in length. Mullein is relatively easy to grow, and it can be propagated by seeds or cuttings.

If you purchase seeds, sow them in early spring. If you collect them from plants in the wild, sow them as soon as the fruits begin to emerge from the flowers. To take cuttings, snip off a length of stem that includes several sets of leaves.

Strip off the lower leaves, and root the cutting in moist sand or vermiculite. Mullein is a hardy plant that requires little care once it is established. It will bloom in its second year, and then die after setting seed.

However, self-seeding readily occurs, so you should not have any trouble keeping a supply of mullein plants on hand.

Types of Mullein

Mullein is a member of the Scrophulariaceae family, which includes over 300 varieties found in Europe, West and Central Asia, and North Africa. The long, terminal flower spikes of members of the Scrophulariaceae snapdragon species are reminiscent of snappedragons.

Common varieties are prolific and can be controlled within the first year by pulling out young rosettes, but hybrid varieties (known as ornamental Mullein) are less intrusive and better suited to gardens.

Pink, white, and purple flowers, as well as lavender and yellow, are available. Here are a few mullein varieties to consider:

Moth Mullein (V.blattaria), a yellow or white flowering plant; Olympic Mullein (V. Olympicum), with five-foot-long branches and bright yellow flowers; Purple Mullein (V. Phoeniceum), a three-foot-tall species with violet or dark purple flowers.

How long does it take to grow mullein?

Mullein is a herbaceous plant that can grow to be quite tall, sometimes reaching up to three feet in height.

It is found in the wild in both the United States and Canada, where it prefers sandy, dry soils and a long growing season of at least 140 days.

Mullein is relatively easy to grow from seed, and once established, it will spread readily. Short varieties of mullein only require about one foot of space, while taller types will need more room to spread out.

When grown in optimal conditions, mullein will bloom in late summer or early fall with clusters of small yellow flowers.

How long do mullein plants live?

Mullein plants are incredibly hardy and can produce a staggering number of seeds over their lifetime. Given the right conditions, a single plant could produce 100,000 to 200,000 seeds in a year.

Even more impressively, mullein seeds have been shown to remain viable for up to 100 years. This means that a seed from a plant that died long ago could still germinate and grow into a new plant today.

While the average lifespan of a mullein plant is not known, it is clear that these plants are extremely long-lived and can have a profound impact on the environment around them.

How do you plant good mullein?

Good mullein plants start with good seeds. Mullein seeds require light in order to germinate, so they should be sown on the surface of the soil, lightly pressing them into place.

They should be spaced 8-12 inches apart to give them room to grow. The seeds will begin sprouting within 12-15 days, at which point the seedlings can be transplanted outdoors.

Be sure to wait until after the last frost to transplant them, as they are sensitive to cold weather. With a little care, you can successfully grow mullein plants from seed.

Is it hard to grow mullein?

Mullein is not difficult to grow, making it a great plant for beginners. It is a prolific and drought-tolerant seed producer, so it is easy to get a lot of plants from just a few seeds.

Seeds can be planted indoors in early spring and outdoors in the late spring. To plant them, simply sprinkle the seeds over the top of a rich pot soil or sow a handful of seeds spaced 18 inches apart and only 1/16 inch deep in soil that is well-drained.

With just a little bit of care, you will soon have a healthy crop of mullein plants.

How long does mullein plant live?

Mullein plants are known for their hardiness and their ability to produce a large number of seeds. Over the course of a year, a single mullein plant can produce 100,000 to 200,000 seeds.

This remarkable output is due to the plant’s small size and its ability to flower multiple times throughout the year. Mullein plants are also very tolerant of different conditions and can survive in nearly all climates.

In fact, there are records of mullein plants that have lasted for over 100 years. This combination of seed production and long lifespan makes mullein plants one of the most successful species of plants on Earth.

Can you grow mullein indoors?

Mullein is a biennial herb that grows best in full sun and well-drained soil. Once established, it is tolerant of drought conditions. Mullein can be direct seeded in the spring or fall, but it is best to start the seeds indoors.

Plant the seeds shallowly, about 1/4 inch deep. Be sure to water the soil well after planting.

The seedlings will emerge in 10-14 days. Thin the seedlings to 18 inches apart when they are 4 inches tall. Mullein plants will flower in their second year of growth. The tall stalks of yellow flowers make an attractive addition to the garden.

Deadhead the spent flowers to prevent self-seeding. Mullein plants will die back to the ground after flowering. Cut them back to 6 inches above the ground in late fall or early spring.

Does mullein come back every year?

Mulleins are hearty plants that come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. While some varieties are annuals, others are perennials that will come back year after year.

Whether you’re looking for a plant to add color to your garden or one that will attract butterflies, there’s a mullein for you. And best of all, these plants are easy to care for and require very little maintenance.

So if you’re looking for a low-maintenance plant to add to your garden, consider mullein. You’ll be glad you did.

Where can you grow mullein?

Common mullein is a hardy plant that can grow in a variety of habitats. It is often found in abandoned meadows and pastures, along the roadsides and fence rows and in vacant areas along wood edges, open spaces in forests and industrial zones.

This plant is adaptable and can tolerate poor soil conditions and little water. It is also resistant to drought and frost. Common mullein has a taproot system that helps it to anchor itself in the ground, making it less likely to be uprooted by heavy winds or rain.

This plant’s tolerance for harsh conditions makes it an ideal choice for gardeners looking to add color and texture to their landscape.

Can you grow mullein in pots?

A common sight in vacant lots and fields, mullein (Verbascum thapsus) is a tall, charming plant with clusters of soft, yellow flowers. Mullein is easy to grow and very tolerant of poor soil conditions, making it a popular choice for gardeners.

However, because it can quickly spread and take over a garden bed, mullein is often grown in pots. Mullein does best in full sun but can also tolerate partial shade.

It is a drought-tolerant plant, so it doesn’t need much water once established. When grown in pots, mullein should be fertilized every few weeks with a half-strength liquid fertilizer.

With proper care, mullein will thrive in pots and provide your garden with some cheerful color.

Does mullein plant spread?

Mullein is a fast-growing plant which is commonly seen in ditches and fields. It has been regarded as an invasive weed in several states which includes Colorado, because of its ability to spread and grow.

In areas where the climate is conducive for its growth, this plant can form a large colony within just a few years. If you have this weed in your garden, it is best to get rid of it as soon as possible before it takes over the entire area.

Hand-pulling is the most effective method of removing this plant, but make sure to dispose of it properly so that it does not spread to other areas.

Jessica Miles

Jessica Miles is a writer for Botanique Boutique, a plant and gardening blog. She has always loved plants, flowers, and anything green. When she was younger, she used to watch her grandfather garden and would be in awe of the beautiful flowers he would grow. Now Jessica writes about all things related to plants and gardening - from beginner tips on how to start growing your own plants, to in-depth guides on caring for a specific type of flower or plant. She loves helping others learn about this fascinating hobby, and hopes that her writing will inspire people to get outside and enjoy nature!

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