Mullein, also known as Verbascum thapsus, is a versatile herb that has a long history of medicinal use. With its tall spikes of yellow flowers and soft, woolly leaves, mullein is not only useful but also visually pleasing in your garden. The leaves and flowers of mullein are rich in saponins, flavonoids, and other beneficial compounds, making it a fantastic addition to your herbal arsenal.
Mullein is a stellar addition to a regenerative or permaculture garden. It's a biennial plant with a deep taproot system, which helps improve soil structure by breaking up compacted layers. This ability also aids in nutrient cycling, as it can access nutrients and minerals from deep within the soil profile. Mullein acts as a pioneer species, capable of improving soil fertility and paving the way for more sensitive plant species. Its tall stalks can provide a microclimate for shorter plants, offering some shade and wind protection.
Here are some growing tips for mullein:
- USDA Growing Zone: 4-9
- Soil pH: 6.1-7.8
- Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
- Tolerant of Light Frost: Yes
- Soil Requirements: Prefers well-draining soil, even sandy or rocky soils. Can tolerate poor soils.
- Spacing: 18-24 inches apart
- Mature height: 5-6 feet
- Propagation: Seeds, direct sow in the garden in spring or autumn. Mullein self-seeds readily but is not overly invasive.
How to plant Mullein
Choose a suitable location: Mullein prefers locations that receive full sun, and can tolerate a range of soil conditions, including rocky or sandy soils.
Water the seedlings: Like most plants, water the seedlings thoroughly before transplanting them to prevent shock and reduce stress.
Prepare the planting site: Remove any weeds or debris from the soil. Dig a hole that's deep and wide enough to accommodate the root ball of the seedling.
Gently remove the seedling: Carefully remove the mullein seedling from its container, ensuring not to damage the roots.
Place the seedling in the hole: Ensure the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. Backfill the hole with soil and gently press down on the soil around the base of the seedling.
Water: After transplanting, water the mullein seedling again, watering deeply to encourage root growth.
Mulch: Mulch around the seedling with an organic material like straw or wood chips. This will help conserve moisture and discourage weed growth.
Monitor: Keep an eye on your mullein plant over the following days and weeks, watering as needed to keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged.
By following these steps, you can ensure your mullein plants will thrive, offering you both aesthetic and medicinal benefits in your regenerative garden.
Energetic and Spiritual Properties of Mullein
Mullein has a rich history in both herbal medicine and various spiritual and magical traditions. Here are some traditional associations, energies, and properties attributed to mullein:
- Element Associations: Fire, Air
- Planetary Associations: Saturn
- Astrological Associations: Capricorn, Aquarius
- Chakra Associations: Throat Chakra Energy, Solar Plexus
- Magical Properties: Divination, Protection, Courage, Health, Self-Love
- Demulcent: Mullein has a soothing effect on any inflamed and irritated internal tissues it comes into contact with.
- Expectorant: Helps the body remove excess mucus from the lungs.
- Anti-inflammatory: Can help reduce inflammation and irritation.
- Vulnerary: It promotes wound healing and forms a protective barrier on wounds.
- Analgesic: Mullein can help relieve pain.
- Mullein is often viewed as energetically cooling and moistening. It's particularly useful in conditions where there's dryness, heat, and inflammation, such as in a dry cough or sore throat.
- It is considered a lymphatic plant, helping to remove congestion and waste from the lymph system.
- Mullein's energetics are gentle and calming, making it suitable for use in children and adults alike.
While Mullein is often considered a weed, we let it naturalize on our little organic farm, and harvest copius amounts of leaves all summer long. We use the fuzzy giant leaves in our Breathe Tea and Mullein Leaf Tincture or Extracts.
Mullein Leaf is powerful ally for all things lung-related. It’s like a sweet mountain swimming hole for your lungs on a hot summer day - cooling, soothing, and relaxing - It will give your lungs a reprieve when you’ve been hacking and help you repel any gunk laying in there while boosting your immunity to fight off infection. Great for asthma, coughs, bronchitis, and smokers.
Mullein Root is a super special friend for all kinds of inflammation "below the belt." Its herbal actions assist with lower back pain while offering structural support to the connective tissues in your hips and spine - sciatica, arthritis, slipped discs - give Mullein Root Tincture a try. It’s also known to relieve symptoms of urinary tract issues such as UTIs, incontinence, and prostate swelling. I think it has a weirdly delicious smell of cacao - root - earth - soil that is comforting and honestly makes my heart swell with gratitude.
Argualbly one of my favoirte remedies is Mullein Flower Essence. If you have any doubt about your brilliance, if you struggle to reveal your soul to the world, if you feel stuck on a path that you know deep down is not for you, Mullein Flower Essence is for you.
It's clear that this beautiful and hardy plant has much to offer. Whether you're interested in its medicinal qualities, attracted to its historical and spiritual significance, or simply appreciate its tall, distinctive stalks and vibrant yellow flowers, growing mullein can be a rewarding experience. We hope this guide empowers you to successfully cultivate and utilize this extraordinary herb in your own garden. Happy gardening!
- Grieve, M. (1998). A Modern Herbal (Vol. 2). Dover Publications.
- Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Healing Arts Press.
- Buhner, S. H. (2012). Herbal Antivirals: Natural Remedies for Emerging & Resistant Viral Infections. Storey Publishing.
- Wood, M. (2008). The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants. North Atlantic Books.
- Cunningham, S. (2003). Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. Llewellyn Publications.
- Tierra, M. (1988). Planetary Herbology. Lotus Press.
- USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service: Plant Profile for Verbascum thapsus L. - https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=VETH