Purple mullein – info, planting, care and tips

Purple mullein (Verbascum phoeniceum)
Purple mullein (Verbascum phoeniceum)

With its loose flowers, the purple mullein is not only suitable for natural gardens. Here is what you need to know about the plant and how to care of it.

Profile of purple mullein:

Scientific name: Verbascum phoeniceum

Plant family: figwort family (Scrophulariaceae)

Other names: temptress purple

Sowing time:

Planting time:

Flowering period: May to June

Location: sunny

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

These information are for temperate climate!

Edible: flowers are edible

Use in: flower beds, group planting, borders, cottage garden, flower garden, nature garden

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

Bee and insect friendly: Yes

Plant characteristics and classification of purple mullein

Plant order, origin and occurrence of purple mullein

Purple mullein (Verbascum phoeniceum) is the most ornamental of the about 300 mullein species and belongs to the figwort family (Scrophulariaceae). This hardy species is found in the wild throughout much of Europe, inhabiting steppe-like lawns and sparse, dry forest edges.

Characteristics of purple mullein


Like all mullein, Verbascum phoeniceum forms a basal rosette spread flat on the ground, from which it pushes upright inflorescences. The plant is hardy and lasts for several years.


The rosettes of the purple mullein consist of green, egg-shaped leaves, the edge of which is notched. The upper sides appear shiny and almost glabrous, while the undersides are downy hairy. In winter, the evergreen leaves do not retract.


From May to June, purple mullein blooms in branched, loose clusters with downy hairy stems. Unlike its relatives, its long-stalked flowers turn primarily purple or violet. With their high pollen content, these are true magnets for hoverflies, bees and beetles. The inflorescences grow 50 to 100 centimeters (20 to 40 in) high.


Capsule fruits ripen, opening upward and releasing the fine seeds in a bumpy manner, usually caused by wind or when you pass by.

Purple mullein – cultivation and care


Purple mullein need a location in full sun. However, they also thrive in light shade.


A low-nitrogen, dry, stony soil is perfect for this wild perennial. The species also loves lime very much. Where a lot of humus builds up over time, for example through autumn leaves, the plant disappears.


Purple mullein is best planted in the spring. Be sure to provide it with 40 centimeters (16 in) of space from other plants. Six pieces per square meter are sufficient. However, you can also scatter them individually in the bed. Over time, it will migrate through the garden by self-seeding.


Verbascum phoeniceum is undemanding and frost hardy. If you cut off the faded candles, the plant remains vital for a long time.


Purple mullein is propagated primarily by root cuttings. To do this, dig up the roots of a beautiful and healthy specimen and cut finger-length pieces. In this way, you will get offspring of the same variety. You can also sow it, either by purchased seed or your own harvest.

Diseases and pests

Purple mullein are very robust. Even snails can not harm them.


The plant is hardy. There is no need for wintering measures.

Use in the garden

Purple mullein suits rural gardens and natural gardens on lean, well-drained ground. Together with Mexican feathergrass (Stipa tenuissima), spurge species (Euphorbia) and irises create wonderful patterns in the garden.


From the wild species Verbascum phoeniceum seedlings are always growing, which change their flower color between purple, purple, red, pink and white. It also crosses with other Verbascum species when they bloom in the neighborhood. This has resulted in several well-known hybrids that have larger flowers and bloom longer. Among them is the variety ‘Violetta’, which is decorated bright violet until August. ‘Rosetta’ captivates with a rich dark pink. ‘Flush of White’ shines in pure white.

Other Use

From the flowers, fresh or dried, you can prepare tea, which is traditionally drunk to loosen mucus from colds. But the flowers are also edible and add purple accents to colorful summer salads.

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