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Verbascum Chaixii Perennial Plants with Tall flower spikes.

Verbascum chaixii: - Nettle Leaved Mullein - Summer flowering Perennial for dry sunny position; yellow or white blooms on tall spikes; height to 3ft (1m); semi or fully evergreen foliage resembling nettles; flower spikes have white downy covering.

The Verbascum group of plants are mainly perennials or biennials – generally with tall central flower spikes. These spikes of flower on some Verbascum types can reach well over 6ft (2m) and in some instances tower up to 8ft (2.4m). Not all Verbascums hold such lofty positions. Some of the more popular types – such as Verbascum chaixii are clad with masses of flower towers no more than 1m tall.

Most garden soils are suitable as long as free draining. The chaixii group of Verbascum is an ideal plant for the dry garden or bank and match in well with many of the ornamental grasses.

Verbascum chaixii  is an evergreen perennial – or sometimes semi-evergreen, which if planted in the right conditions will persist for many years, unlike some of the Verbascum family that are often generally short lived perennials – best treated as biennials. It does not have the silver downy foliage of some of the tall types; it has nettle-like leaves - though not stinging or otherwise a problem - hence its common name of Nettle Leaved Mullein. 

Verbascum chaixii Album- Image Verbascum chaixii f. Album © David Hughes
The tall flower columns are made up of many individual plate-shaped pale golden yellow flowers that have attractive purple centres of hair-like filaments - clothing the entire stem. Whereas individual flower spike stems have a short life, there is generally a succession of new stems to take over the display.

There is also a white-flowered type of Verbascum chaixii f. album, having white or very pale pink flowers with an attractive centre of purple or mauve.

Both types are suitable and restrictive enough to be used in beds of annuals and also planted in large containers.

How and where to grow Verbascum

Verbascum chaixii are ideal plants for dry areas in full sun and can be planted – along with most other perennials and shrubs that have grey, silver, or downy foliage – in those conditions. Plant Verbascum in your poorest patch of soil - preferably alkaline, certainly not prone to water-logging and you will be rewarded with notable displays of tall spire-like blooms.

Many people notice their first Verbascum, when it is growing happily on a roadside verge, dry bank or even a heap of mature builder’s rubble. That’s how little care and attention they need! If you are a habitual ‘waterer’ then Verbascum is not your ideal plant.

Most grow to maximum height of 3ft – having many flower spikes and quite long flowering periods throughout the summer and into the early autumn. The taller Verbascums generally have single central columnar  flower stems; the shorter perennial Verbascum chaixii and it ‘Album’ form types have several if not many such floral spikelets.

Full sun, poor soil which is well drained and lack of loving care are the main requirements. Plant as such, and simply enjoy the display.

Problems with Verbascum chaixii

No severe problems or pests, though powdery mildew can be present. As the plant prefers hot dry conditions this is less than likely.

Propagation of Verbascum chaixii

Root cuttings in the winter months or early spring or normal division of ageing plants will keep them healthy – and provide additional true to form and colour additions.

Seed can be saved and sown in late spring, taking care to ‘nurture’ the young plants through their first winter.


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