Hybrid Mulleins look most attractive in the catalogue photographs, and garden centres offer a range of named varieties. Before you buy one for the back of the border, however, you should know the disadvantages. In rich soil Verbascum tends to produce a disappointing floral display, and plants sometimes die at the end of the flowering season – Hybrid Mulleins tend to be short-lived. If your soil is well drained and you accept the need to replace plants occasionally, the Mulleins offer a wide range of colours and heights for the border. From the basal rosette of woolly leaves arise the much-branched flowering stems, bearing 1 to ½ in. saucer-shaped blooms. Provide some form of support for these stems and cut them down to just above ground level in autumn. Keep watch for caterpillars.

VARIETIES: Nearly all named varieties belong to V. hybridum – height 3-6 ft. Spacing 2 ft.

Flowering period: June-August. The shorter ones include ‘Gainsborough’(3-4ft. yellow),’PinkDomino’(3-4 ft. rose-pink),’Mont Blanc’ (3-4 ft. white) and ‘Cotswold Queen’ (3-4 ft. apricot). The best of the giants is ‘C. L. Adams’ (6 ft. yellow) – other tall ones are ‘Miss Willmott’ (6 ft. white) and ‘Harkness Hybrid’ (6 ft. yellow).

SITE AND SOIL: Most well-drained garden soils will do – thrives best in full sun.

PROPAGATION: Take root cuttings in winter.

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