Most gardeners know mullein as a large, velvety-leaved perennial that self sows in your garden and produces a 5-foot-tall, yellow flower stalk in midsummer. The English have taken a liking to this common North American weed and have been breeding new varieties that are more colorful, more floriferous, and shorter in stature.
The newest variety to hit our shores is Verbascum 'Dark Eyes', with spikes of peach-colored flowers with red eyes. It grows only 12 inches tall, so it can even be planted as a ground cover. If you deadhead it soon after flowering, not only will you prevent it from self-sowing throughout your garden, it will send up a second flush of blossoms, as well. The blooms make excellent cut flowers; butterflies and hummingbirds love them; and better yet, deer don't seem to like mulleins.
Mullein grows best in full sun in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 9, on well-drained soils with below average fertility.
For more information about Verbascum 'Dark Eyes', go to the Terra Nova Nurseries Web site at http://www.terranovanurseries.com/pages/plantsT3.html.
Article published on February 28, 2005.