Verbascum 'Banana and Custard'
Common Name: verbascum 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Scrophulariaceae
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to July
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Deer, Drought

Culture

Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Prefers full sun. Tolerates a wide range of soil conditions including poor dry soils, but must have good drainage. 'Banana and Custard' is a hybrid seed strain. It is also a biennial. Remove spent flower spikes before seed sets to encourage additional bloom and to stimulate perennial tendencies. As with biennial foxgloves (Digitalis), it is usually best to leave some flower spikes for self-seeding or for seed collection, however, in order to insure than the plants will remain in the garden. 'Banana and Custard' seed is also available from some nurseries. Also may be propagated by root cuttings in early spring.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Verbascum is a genus of about 350 species of mostly biennial plants but also some annuals, perennials and sub-shrubs. They are native from Europe to North Africa to Western and Central Asia. They are grown for their attractive flower spikes.

The genus name Verbascum comes from the Latin word barbascum which means "bearded", in reference to the hairy stamen filaments of some species.

'Banana and Custard' is a hybrid mullein cultivar. It is an erect, clump-forming biennial which usually will remain in the garden through self-seeding. Forms a large basal rosette (to 2' wide) of woolly, ovate, silvery-green leaves from which rise multiple, erect flowering stems (3-4' tall) bearing long terminal spikes of large, 5-lobed, nearly flat, bright two-toned yellow flowers (to 2" diameter). Long, late spring to summer bloom period with possible fall rebloom. Though almost universally sold as 'Banana Custard' the Royal Horticulture Society lists the correct name as 'Banana and Custard.'

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Susceptible to spider mites in hot conditions. Taller plants may need staking or other support. Wet, poorly drained soils are usually fatal.

Garden Uses

Borders and cottage gardens. Good vertical accent. Grows well in poor soils and will grow well on dry, rocky slopes or scree.