Mullein, with its towering, velvety leaves and striking yellow flower spike that can grow quite tall, is a gorgeous presence in the garden and adds vertical interest to the landscape.
Growing Mullein in Central Texas:
Mullein is well-suited to the hot dry climate of Central Texas. It's a biennial plant that thrives in full sun and well-draining soil, and its deep taproot helps it tolerate periods of drought.
Mullein is a resilient, hardy plant that doesn’t enjoy being babied. Plant this low-maintenance herbal ally in your rich, heavily composted garden bed and it will struggle. But plant mullein in the harsh, dry soil where other hardy “weeds” tend to grow and it’ll likely thrive.
Mullein grows easily in rocky, sandy areas and likes to dry out between watering. It's one you'll see growing wild in the hill country or along the roadside. If you have heavy clay soil like we do, add some sand, decomposed granite, or perlite to the planting area, give the plant plenty of sun, and mullein will likely thrive. We grow it in our backyard where the bee balm, verbena, prickly poppies, and other wildflowers grow. We also grow it in the shallow caliche on the edges of our driveway.
Benefits of Mullein in the Garden Ecosystem:
Mullein’s a beautiful leafy plant that grows easily in Central Texas and has a range of wonderful attributes in the garden ecosystem. The plant’s deep taproot helps improve soil structure by helping to aerate the soil and it brings up nutrients to the surface of the soil where they can be utilized by other plants. It’s dense foliage shades and protects the soil from the harsh summer sun. And the tall flower spike that mullein shoots up in the springtime supplies pollen to bees and can serve as a support for climbing plants.
Working with Mullein:
Mullein has an affinity for the respiratory tract and a long history of use in supporting lung health. With its demulcent properties, it's cleansing and soothing to the bronchial tubes and mucous membranes, calming irritated tissues and dryness. It's also helpful as an expectorant, supporting the body in clearing chest and sinus congestion, alleviating lung spasms, and coughs. Additionally, an infused oil made of mullein flowers and garlic is a classic remedy for ear infections. Its a popular addition to herbal respiratory teas, sinus steams, and herbal smoke blends.
Once established, mullein can self-seed in the garden. If growing from seeds, know that it needs a period of cold stratification. You can do this by winter sowing in the fall and allowing the plant to experience a period of cold naturally. Or you can simulate winter by putting the seeds in the fridge.
We love growing mullein and often have mullein plants for sale in Central Texas, depending on the season. Here's how to order plants from us.