Scientific Name: Verbascum thapsus
Growth Zone: USDA hardiness zones 3 through 9
Mullein (also known as Common Mullein) is a multipurpose herb. It is often effortless to grow. The furry leaves and flower rosettes of the plant will make a beautiful landscape. It is very common to find the herb growing out in the fields and ditches.
5 Best-Selling Mullein Seeds
Mullein is biennial. In its first year of planting, the plant does not produce flowers. You can easily find a mullein plant growing in the toughest of places.
Some people consider mullein as an invasive weed. However, it is not considered as a dangerous weed, as it does not compete with established plants for nutrients.
Varieties of Mullein
Mullein comes in different types, such as:
- Common mullein
- White netted mullein
- Southern charm mullein
- Summer sorbet mullein
- Olympic mullein
The Life Cycle of a Mullein Plant
During the first year of growing, the leaves of the plant emerge from the crown at the soil surface. In the second year, the plants develop a flower stalk. Mullein has alternate leaves, which decrease in size towards its top.
The plant produces yellow flowers. It might also grow white flowers, but this happens rarely. They attract several insects, such as butterflies, bees, and flies.
The insects help in cross-pollination. In case there are no insects, the plant self-pollinates itself.
At maturity, mullein fruit separates into two halves.
After flowering, the plant dies.
The seeds of mullein remain viable for many years. Hence, it is difficult to eradicate the plants from a particular area entirely.
Only the seeds exposed to light will germinate. Those in darkness will remain dormant.
How to Get Rid of Mullein Plants?
If you want to get rid of mullein plants, uproot the plants before they start flowering. Avoid disturbing the soil. Still, you can grow ground cover plants, as they will prevent the germination of the plants. If the infestation of the plant is very dense, use herbicides. Although, they might not be as effective since the hairy surface of the plant hinders absorption.
Origin of Mullein
Mullein was first introduced to the United States in the 1700s. It was used as a chemical substance, poisonous to fish. Since it grows in several environmental conditions, the plants spread quickly in the United States. The plant is common to Mediterranean countries. Over the years, mullein has been used for medicinal purposes.
People with lung ailments would smoke dried mullein leaves, so as to get healed. Roman soldiers would dip the stalks of the plants in grease to make torches.
In Greece, mullein was used as a lamp wick. The leaves were dried and rolled and then used in lamps and candles.
Recently, the growth of mullein has spread into different countries, as the herb is associated with several benefits.
Making Herbal Tea Using Mullein
To make the tea, pour hot water on fresh or dried mullein leaves. Let the water stay for about 10 minutes. Sieve to remove the leaves. Use fresh leaves that have mot overgrown.
The tea is known to treat various respiratory problems such as bronchitis and asthma.
Growing Mullein Plant from Seeds
- Mullein is best propagated from seeds.
- Dig the soil to about 12 inches deep. Remove debris and other large materials from the soil.
- Purchase seeds from online dealers, or harvest them from an existing plant. Scatter the seeds on a soil surface where you want to grow your plants.
- Mullein does not require a lot of organic matter to thrive. It will grow even in poor soil conditions. Sprinkle water in the growing area.
- The plant does not transplant well. Start it directly from the ground instead of planting it in pots.
1. Growing Area
The plant grows well in full sun. If you live in a location with strong winds, plant mullein near a wall or trees to protect it from the winds. Allow plenty of space between the plants.
2. Watering the Plant
The plant does not require a lot of water to grow. However, increase the amount of water in your plants during the flowering period.
3. Adding Fertilizers
It is not mandatory to add fertilizers to your plants. However, you can add a slow-release fertilizer at the onset of the growing period.
4. Caring for Mullein Plants During Winter
Mullein is frost tolerant. Mulch it before the onset of winter. The mulch will protect the roots from extremely cold temperatures.
Throughout the growing seasons, keep weeds off. They will compete for nutrients, water, and space with your plants. Uproot them or mulch your plants to prevent the growth of weeds.
Harvest the flowers in the morning and let them dry in the shade. The flowers are ready for harvest in late summer. To harvest them, you do not need special equipment. Just wear gloves. Grab the stalk and bend it. Pinch the stalk with your fingers. Deposit the flowers in a harvesting bucket.
7. Pests and Diseases
- The plant is resistant to a lot of pests and diseases. However, aphids can be a nuisance. Wash them off using a strong spray.
- Do not overwater your plants as they will get root rot. If your plants get root rot, pluck them off to discourage the spread of the disease.
- To avoid powdery mildew, allow sufficient air circulation between your plants.
- Spider mites might attack your plants, suck the juice from them, and inject certain toxins. These leave dots on the foliage. Eventually, the foliage turns yellow. Spray our plants to get rid of them, using approved pesticides.
- Slugs feed on the foliage. Remove them by handpicking at night.
8. Controlling the Spread of the Plant
To control the spread of mullein, remove the fuzzy rosettes in your plants. The common type of the plant is very invasive, unlike the hybrid types.
Uses of Mullein
- Mullein is used as a herbal remedy. The leaves are used for treating respiratory illnesses. They clear the lungs by loosening congestion.
- Mullein roots are used to treat urinary tract infections.
- Mullein flowers are used to treat wounds and scrapes on the skin. The flowers can also be used to treat earaches.
- Mullein has properties that treat flu.
- Dried leaves of mullein can be smoked to relieve respiratory mucous membrane irritation.
- Mullein oil is used in treating various skin conditions such as eczema.
Frequently Asked Questions
Mullein may cause skin irritation for some people. This rarely happens, though.
After sowing your seeds, the seedlings will emerge between 14-25 days.
Mullein leaves and flowers are considered to be safe. They have not shown signs of adverse effects.
It is not advisable to grow the plants in containers, as they tend to grow very large.
It is not recommended to move your plants from one place to another. That can easily get damaged, as they have a tap root.
Mullein is a biennial species.
Apart from its medicinal and culinary uses, mullein brings an ornamental aspect to your garden. Since it is a wild plant, the plant does not require a lot of special treatment during its growth. In the past, mullein was seen as a weed. However, recently, people are growing the plants in their gardens, as they have a lot of benefits. Garden designers also use the plants, as they create beautiful statements in outdoor spaces.