Propagating verbascums
Amateur Gardening|November 28, 2020
Anne Swithinbank’s masterclass on: Verbascums
Anne Swithinbank

Q My friend says I can take root cuttings of the verbascums in her garden. They are good upright ones with white flowers. How do I propagate them from root cuttings and how long does it take for the plants to flower? Corinne Calderbank, Birmingham

A Your plants are likely to be a whiteflowered cultivar of European Verbascum chaixii, also known as nettleleaved mullein. Slender spikes of white flowers to 3ft (1m) high might have yellow or purple stamens and make useful uprights in borders, with seed heads persisting well into winter. Plants seed themselves around in a useful way, but weed out unwanted seedlings promptly before they put down deep tap roots. Ground-hugging basal leaf rosettes often persist throughout winter.

The deep, anchoring roots help plants tolerate drought, making these sun-loving mulleins perfect for poor, sandy soils and dry gardens. These strong roots also provide opportunities for cuttings, taken while plants are dormant. Step one is to pay a visit and collect material, bearing in mind that it is probably polite to turn up with the appropriate tools and bags. Be sure to fill in holes and neaten up afterwards.

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