Letitia flannel plant: A gorgeous verbascum that behaves!

Verbascum ‘Letitia’ photo by Michael Guidi

Not all Verbascums (mulleins) are bad characters. There are 450 species in the genus, and some make very nice, well-behaved plants in the garden. And this one is nothing like the tall yellow spikes you see on the side of the road. Meet Letitia flannel plant! 

Letitia only grows 4-12” high by 8-16” wide. It’s covered with yellow blooms in the spring and much of the summer. Occasionally cutting back spent flowers will tidy it up and encourage new growth. The flowers have red to purple eyes which helps butterflies and other pollinators find their way into each flower. Letitia grows in most well-drained soils, including poor and alkaline soils. While it likes regular water, it is drought tolerant and will grow with just occasional water. 

Deer and rabbits leave this mullein alone. If you plant Letitia flannel plant along the whole front of your garden, will it discourage the rabbits from crossing the street into your garden? It would be worth trying just for the show!

Besides the show, it is a plant to enjoy because it’s so easy to care for, whether you’re planting it in full sun or part shade. Letitia is good for beginners and is rewarding for both children and seasoned gardens alike. Its small size makes it perfect for rock gardens, edging walks, and putting in sunny beds of low mixed perennials. Try it with prairie clover (Dalea purpurea), red feathers echium (Echium amoenum), or silver mat penstemon ‘Silverton’ (Penstemon linarioides ssp. coloradoensis ‘P014S’).

During the winter the plant may look a little bedraggled, but do not remove the dead leaves. They are protecting next year’s buds. The leaves will fall off on their own in the spring when the buds begin to grow.

Because it is a chance cross between two species, the plant is sterile and will not propagate from seed. 

Letitia flannel plant, aka Verbascum ‘Letitia’, is among the wonderful Plant Select introductions you will find at your local garden centers. Bring one or several home. You will be glad you did!

Height: 6-12”

Width: 8-16”

Flowering season: Spring/Syummer

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water Needs: Average to dry after establishment

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-9 

Thanks to Carol Shinn for this story!

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