Greek mullein – planting, care and tips

Greek mullein (Verbascum olympicum)
Greek mullein (Verbascum olympicum) - By Schnobby - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Its richly branched, dense inflorescences on meter-high stems give the Greek mullein a majestic appearance.

Profile of Greek mullein:

Scientific name: Verbascum olympicum

Plant family: figwort family (Scrophulariaceae)

Other names: Olympic mullein

Sowing time: from April

Planting time: spring or autumn

Flowering period: June to August

Location: sunny

Soil quality: gritty to loamy, calcipholous, low in nutrients, low in humus

These information are for temperate climate!

Use in: flower beds, stand-alone, group planting, overgrowing, borders, flower garden, natural garden

Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 6 (-20 °C / -5 °F)

Bee and insect friendly: Yes

Plant characteristics and classification of Greek mullein

Plant order, origin and occurrence of Greek mullein

The home of the Greek mullein (Verbascum olympicum) is Uludag, a mountain in western Turkey, which is also the highest point in the Marmara region. Mullein are naturalized and since they hybridize very easily with closely related species, transitional forms are often encountered. Because of its splendid growth pattern, the Olympic mullein is very popular in gardening. It belongs to the figwort family (Scrophulariaceae), the common feature of which is the conspicuous pharynx-flowers.

Characteristics of Greek mullein


Greek mullein is a biennial plant that forms a strong rosette of leaves with gray-tomentose hairy leaves in the first year, from the middle of which a richly branched inflorescence, reminiscent of a candlestick, emerges in the second year. It can reach an impressive height of 180 centimeters (6 ft). After flowering, the plant dies, but usually ensures its survival in the garden by rich self-sowing.


The basal leaf rosettes of the Olympic mullein are evergreen. The flower stalk is only in the lower part alternately covered with simple, broad-lanceolate leaves.


From June to August, Olympic mullein offers a spectacular display of flowers: its richly branched flower stalk then truly resembles a candlestick, which is covered over and over with yellow flowers. As usual for figworts, the five petals are fused at their base and have asymmetrical corolla lobes. They are a rich source of nectar for bees and other insects.


The capsule fruits of Greek mullein contain innumerable, conical-cylindrical seeds.

Greek mullein – cultivation and care


The Greek mullein loves warmth and thrives best in full sun.


According to its nature, Olympic mullein gets along very well with dry, sandy or gravelly soils. It doesn’t like waterlogging at all, but tolerates lime well.

Planting Greek mullein

Pre-cultivated young plants of Greek mullein are best planted in spring or autumn with a distance of at least 60 centimeters (24 in).


Water less often, but for this it is thorough and penetrating. This stimulates the plant roots to grow into deeper soil layers and so withstand dry periods better.


Use slow release fertilizers in spring, like compost or horn-shavings. This releases the nutrients slowly and continuously so that the plant is evenly supplied over a longer period of time.


Olympic mullein should be cut back in autumn / late autumn when the plant begins to withdraw.

Faded inflorescences should be cut back. This measure promotes new growth.


The frugal Olympic mullein does not require any special attention. Its impressive seed heads should be left to stand over the winter. Where too many seedlings come out in spring, they can be easily decimated.


The short-lived plant is one of those vagabond in the garden which seed itself again and again. Open ground is a prerequisite for their growth. If you want to sow them specifically, you can sow the seeds directly from April.

Diseases and pests

Verbascum olympicum does not show any susceptibility to certain plant diseases or pests.


Greek mullein is hardy down to -20 °C / -5 °F. There are no special measures for winter protection necessary. In the first one or two years after planting, however, it is helpful if you apply a layer of brushwood over the plants

Use in the garden

Greek mullein requires a lot of space and, because of its height, is often planted in the background of steppe-like garden parts or on open spaces and gravel beds with a wild shrub character. Blue flowering perennials such as thistle, lavender, catnip, wood sage and chicory, which also have similar location requirements, are a nice accompaniment.

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