Verbascum 'Helen Johnson'

Common Name: verbascum 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Scrophulariaceae
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to frost
Bloom Description: Apricot
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Deer, Drought


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. This plant is a short-lived perennial (typically 2-3 years). Remove spent flower spikes to maintain plant appearance and to encourage additional bloom. This hybrid is sterile and will not set seed. Plants can be propagated and kept in the garden by root-cuttings (best 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.

'Helen Johnson' is an erect, clump-forming, short-lived perennial which must be regularly propagated to keep it in the garden. Forms a large basal rosette (to 2' wide) of woolly, ovate, silvery-green leaves from which rise spires of 5-lobed, nearly flat, pale salmon to peach-pink flowers with purple eyes (stamens) on 24-36" (less frequently to 42") flower stems. Long, late spring to summer bloom period with possible fall rebloom.


No serious insect or disease problems. Susceptible to spider mites in hot conditions. Wet, poorly drained soils are usually fatal. Short-lived.

Garden Uses

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