Verbascum ‘Snow Maiden’ is an incredibly beautiful mullein that blooms with masses of soft white flowers, each with delicate yellow filaments. Flowering in June, the blooms continue to appear over a long summer, often right through to September. It makes a striking show for the middle to back of a multi-coloured border or white bed, and is very easy to grow from seed, giving plenty of plants to thread throughout the garden.
‘Snow Maiden’, also known as 'Verbascum hybridum' or more simply as White Mullein grows to a height of 36 to 48cm (3 to 4ft) with a spread of 30 to 60cm (12 to 24in). Blooming from late spring into summer, it is blessed with strong stems which do not need staking. Removing spent flowers will encourage additional bloom time.
Verbascum ‘Snow Maiden’ will tolerate a wide range of soil conditions but must have good drainage. This low maintenance perennial requires dry to medium soil and should be planted in full sun for best results. It can be planted in rocky slopes to add colour, as a border plant or in cottage gardens.
Verbascum are a wonderful plant for making a garden feel uncontrived, producing masses of flowers without taking up lots of space on the ground. Their vertical flower spikes help any border succeed visually, leading the eye up to the sky and breaking up the boring hummocky look. Plant as a single specimen or in groups of three or more for an even bolder appearance.
Sowing: Sow in spring or in autumn
If started as early as January, this strain usually blooms the first year from seed. Later sown seedlings will provide blooms the following year. Germination 7 to 21 days.
Seeds can be sown directly where they are to flower in either Spring (two to four weeks before average last frost date) or in Autumn (up to two months before first autumn frost) Sow thinly and thin seedlings to an eventual spacing of 38 to 45cm.
Sow 6 to 8 weeks before planting outdoors in April to May. The plants have a long tap root, so you may wish to use root trainers or long pots. Take care when transplanting. Sow in trays, pots, etc of good seed compost. Space 2.5cm (1in) between the seeds. Cover the seeds lightly with compost or medium-grade vermiculite to help keep the seed moist during germination. Avoid direct sunlight by shading seeds after sowing. Place in a propagator or warm place to maintain an optimum temperature of 15 to 18°C (60 to 65°F). Keep soil slightly moist but not wet.
Following germination, reduce the moisture levels somewhat, allowing the growing medium to dry out slightly before watering to help promote rooting. They are usually ready for transplanting in 5-7 weeks. Transplant into 10-18cm (4 to 7in) pot. Harden off and plant out when all risk of frost has passed 45cm (18in) apart in full sun.
Verbascum grows best under full sun in locations with moist but well drained soil; sites with poor drainage will most likely lead to plant mortality. They require a mulch in the winter for protection.
Verbascum is a moderate feeder. Growing them under high fertility regimes generally causes them to become very lush and delay flowering. Don't fertilise after mid Sept.
To encourage the plant to repeat bloom or extend the bloom season to late in the year, cut off the centre stalk after initial flowering, just to where you see side shoots emerging. Approx 4 to 5 weeks to the second flowering. It will also extend the life of your plant
These are evergreen plants; they keep their leaves year round, losing the aerial part during the coldest months of the year. As spring begins, stems and leaves quickly start to reproduce.
Border, Cottage Garden, Mediterranean or Gravel Garden. Exposed Coastal planting. Problem areas. Architectural. Drought, heat, deer, slug and snail proof.
Pick the flowers as required. For dried flowers, place the flowers face down on paper or racks away from light to preserve colour (and medicinal properties). Use in potpourri.
The flowers of Verbascum phlomoides, like those of Large-flowered Mullein were used in European folk medicine. The flowers were used in herbal tea mixtures for coughs and colds and the leaves were applied externally to slow healing wounds. The flowers without the calyx are the medicinally active parts.
After drying they are bright yellow with a honey like scent. The flowers yield a yellow dye and were used by women in ancient Rome to dye their hair golden yellow. They are still used to give aroma to some liqueurs and included in cosmetic preparations.
The leaves are sometimes used in medicinal teas, but should not be taken in excess as they are mildly toxic. The large velvety leaves were used in shoes or slippers to keep the feet warm and help ward off chilblains.
Verbascum phlomoides is native to central and southern Europe and south west Asia. It has been cultivated in the UK since 1739. It was known from the wild by 1838, but it is rarely naturalised and then mostly in the south of England.
The species plant is very similar to Verbascum densiflorum, Large Flowered Mullein but its stem leaves do not, or hardly, run down onto the stem and the flowers are larger and are arranged in a looser spike.
Native to the mountains of Greece. The word 'Verbascum' is likely to have been derived from two Latin sources ‘ver’ meaning ‘spring’ and ‘barbascum', which means ‘bearded plant’.
The species name phlomoides is derived from the Latin meaning ‘like Phlomis’. The word Phlomis is Greek for ‘plant’.
Verbascum phlomoides is commonly known as Orange Mullein as the flowers are sometimes orange-yellow, Woolly Mullein or Clasping Mullein. The name 'Mullein' derives from the Latin 'mollis' meaning soft.
One of the old common names is ‘the candlewick plant’ because the large soft furry leaves were cut into strips, dried, and used as wicks for candles.
Recently the common names have fallen by the wayside. When a plant sheds its common name and becomes known only by its official Latin title, it is a sure sign that it has come up in the world. The Verbascum has shrugged off as many as ten downmarket pseudonyms as it has ascended the horticultural social scale, moving from the disorderly surroundings of the cottage garden to elegant colour-themed plantings. This stately plant, which combines architectural form with beautiful colouring, deserves this elevation.
Folklore and Facts:
Poachers of fish are said to have made their quarry drunk by feeding them the seeds. Cockroaches are allergic to one species. A concoction from the tissues is supposed to turn the hair as golden as a goddess's, and a tisane has been claimed to cure many ills, from gout to ringworm.
According to Pliny the Elder, verbascum can cure superficial abscess when used in a poultice made of pounded root, sprinkled in wine and wrapped in leaves but only if the patient fasts and the poultice is applied by a naked maiden who has also been fasting. The maiden must say ‘Apollo tells us that plague cannot grow more fiery in a patient if a naked maiden quench the fire’. Mandragora is an alternative treatment for abscesses but does not require the involvement of a naked maiden so may not have been as popular.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 25mg Average Seed Count 200 Seeds Seed Form Natural Seeds per gram 8,000 seeds per gram Family Scrophulariaceae Genus Verbascum Species phlomoides Cultivar Snow Maiden Synonym White Mullein, Celsia Common Name Verbascum hybridum or 'Spica' Other Common Names Candlewick plant Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers Pure white with delicate yellow filaments Natural Flower Time May to August. Foliage Low-growing rosette of large ovate, silvery-green leaves Height 100 to 120cm (36 to 48in) Spread 30 to 60cm (12 to 24in) Position Full Sun Soil Well-drained/light, Chalky/alkaline, Dry, Sandy