Verbascum

All you need to know about growing Verbascum in your garden
Steven R. Lorton and Lauren Bonar Swezey

Grow these striking plants for their large leaves as well as their spiky flowers. Some species and hybrids are biennial and others are perennial. All types prefer moderate water (allow the soil to dry out somewhat between waterings) and full sun.

V. bombyciferum 'Arctic Summer' (biennial; zones 2-11, 14-24) has 1 1/2-foot-long furry, gray green leaves. The yellow flowers form on 6-foot-tall, powdery white spikes.

V. chaixii (perennial; zones 2-11, 14-24) has 6-inch-long hairy, green leaves and 3-foot-tall spikes of pale yellow flowers with a red eye. 'Album' is white with a purple center.

V. phoeniceum hybrids (perennial; zones 1-10, 14-24) have 6-inch-long dark green leaves that are smooth on top, hairy on the bottom. Pink, red, violet, and white flowers appear on 2- to 4-foot-tall spikes. 'Violetta' has dark violet-purple flowers.

Other verbascum hybrids: 'Banana Custard' (biennial to 6 feet tall), with yellow flowers; 'Copper Rose' (perennial to 6 feet tall), with flowers in apricot, buff, rose, or tan (it blooms the first year from seed sown in late winter or early spring); and 'Southern Charm', which comes in apricot, cream, dusky pink, and lavender. (All grow in zones 3-10, 14-24.)