Black mullein – info, planting, care and tips

Black mullein (Verbascum nigrum)
Black mullein (Verbascum nigrum)

The black mullein brings a lot of color into your garden. This is how you plant and care for this striking perennial.

Profile of black mullein:

Scientific name: Verbascum nigrum

Plant family: figwort family (Scrophulariaceae)

Other names: dark mullein

Sowing time: spring

Planting time: spring or autumn

Flowering period: June to August

Harvest time: June to Ocotber

Location: sunny

Soil quality: stony to sandy, calcipholous, low in nutrients, low in humus

These information are for temperate climate!

Use as a medicinal herb: hoarseness, cough

Use in: flowerbeds, planters, overgrowing, borders, apothecary garden, flower garden, natural garden, potted garden

Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 5 (-26 °C / -15 °F)

Bee and insect friendly: Yes

Plant characteristics and classification of black mullein

Plant order, origin and occurrence of black mullein

The black mullein (Verbascum nigrum) is a wild shrub that originates from Northern and Central Europe. The biennial to perennial plant belongs to the genus of mullein within the figwort family (Scrophulariaceae).

Characteristics of black mullein


The black mullein is a rather short-lived perennial that grows up to 120 centimeters (48 in) high and 100 centimeters (40 in) wide. It forms spreading leaf rosettes.


The leaves of the dark mullein are long-stemmed and act independently as a rosette. The 40 centimeters (16 in) long, egg-shaped base leaves appear gray-wooly hairy underneath, but not on top.


In the first year, the often protruding leaf rosette develops into an inflorescence in the second year, after a cold stimulus in winter. During the flowering period from June to August, mostly unbranched, up to 50 centimeters long, spike-like racemes develop with yellow, 2.5 centimeter wide cupped flowers. They have a dark violet center and enclose violet stamens – hence the name “dark mullein”. Although the individual flowers do not last long on the plant, they bloom quickly one after the other. The light yellow flowers attract numerous insects, like bees and bumblebees.


After flowering, brown loculicidal capsules ripen.

Black mullein – cultivation and care


The black mullein naturally thrives in forest clearings, along paths and dams, especially on debris. In your garden you should choose a sunny location.


The optimum soil for Verbascum nigrum is dry and calcareous. The black mullein prefers stony to sandy, permeable substrates.


Plant four plants per square meter (10 sq ft) at a distance of about 50 centimeters (20 in). Best tim for planting is spring, but can also be done in autumn

Care / Watering / Fertilization / Pruning

The black mullein is very easy to care for. Water the plant rarely, but thoroughly. This stimulates the plant roots to penetrate even into deeper soil layers and thus survive dry periods better. Since the dark mullein is frost hardy, it does not need winter protection. Cut back wilted inflorescences of the black mullein, this stimulates a new flowering in the following year. There is no need for fertilizing.


You can divide black mullein in spring before budding or in autumn after flowering.


The propagation of the black mullein is usually done by sowing in spring. Propagation by division or cuttings is also possible.

Diseases and pests

The black mullein is susceptible to powdery mildew. The powdery mildew sits as a wipeable coating on the upper sides of the leaves. It is at first white, later usually dirty brownish to grayish. As the infection progresses, the leaves turn brown and finally dry out from the edge. One should, in good time, remove the affected leaves with household waste.


As the black mullein is hardy down to -26 °C / -15 °F, there is no ened for winter protection.

Use in the garden

The black mullein is extremely well suited as a decorative shrub in beds and borders. Verbascum nigrum is not as dominant as the denseflower mullein (Verbascum densiflorum). It is particularly well suited to a natural garden, where it is best planted on the edge of a wood and in clearings between groups of trees and shrubs – in other words, in places that correspond to its natural habitat. Suitable planting partners include Mexican feathergrass, Swiss oregano (Origanum laevigatum) or winter savory (Satureja montana). You can also use the dark mullein as a potted plant.


The flowers of Verbascum nigrum ‘Album’ appear white with a dark purple center.

Black mullein as a medicinal herb

It also plays a role as a medicinal plant, which is particularly useful for coughs. The plant also has antiviral, circulation stimulating and anti-inflammatory effects.

Usually the black mullein is added to cough tea mixtures. In these mixtures they soften the coughing stimulus and have an expectorant effect.

Also pure, meaning without other herbs for coughing, they can be drunk in tea. An infusion is prepared for this purpose. A diluted tincture can be used against gastrointestinal catarrh.

Externally, black mullein can be used as an oil extract in ointments and creams, helps against wrinkles, skin inflammation and bruises.


Since the plant is relatively rare, it should not be collected in the wild.

The flowers are collected without calyxes/ sepals, it is important that the stamens are preserved.

It is best to collect on a sunny day in the late morning after the morning moisture has evaporated. Under no circumstances should the flowers be moist. Do not collect in the afternoon.

The flowers must be dried quickly in the airy shade, drying in the oven is also possible, the temperature must not exceed 50 °C / 122 °F.

After drying, use only the yellow flowers, the brown flowers are sorted out.

The dried flowers must be stored protected from moisture. Even low humidity causes mold.

Black mullein can be used for these ailments and diseases

  • bladder diseases
  • bruises
  • catarrh
  • common cold
  • cough
  • flu
  • frostbite
  • gastrointestinal complaints
  • hoarseness
  • influenza
  • renal diseases
  • respiratory diseases
  • rheumatism
  • skin inflammations
  • warts

Medicinal properties

  • antiviral
  • anti-inflammatory
  • circulation stimulating
  • diuretic
  • softening
  • sweaty

Side effects

Not known.


Ask your doctor or pharmacist. Visiting this page can not replace the visit to the doctor. For serious or unclear complaints, consult your doctor.

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