Verbascum 'Helen Johnson'
Garden Plant Information

Verbascum 'Helen Johnson'



Verbascum 'Helen Johnson'






'Helen Johnson'

General description

Hardy biennial grown for spikes of copper-pink, cup-shaped flowers. Looks good as part of a mixed border or cottage garden, adding colour and height in summer. Associates well with other summer flowering biennials and perennials. Attractive to bees and other insects.


For some gardeners, this Verbascum is said to be short lived, flowering for only one year, but here it's flowered for the last two years. At the moment (Jan '06), there is still a leaf rosette so it'll be interesting to see what happens.


V. 'Helen Johnson' is said to be a hybrid between V. phoeniceum and V. bombyciferum.

Season of interest

Flowers in summer.

Key horticultural features

  1. Habit - upright to leaning. H: 90cm S: 30cm

  2. Stem - straight, vertically ridged, with the narrower top tending to curl under until the flower buds get bigger.

  3. Leaves - oval, forming a rosette, soft, grey-green.

  4. Flowers -  cup-shaped, copper-pink with purple centres.

Cultural details


Full sun to partial shade, though does best in full sun.


Well drained, dislikes wet. More likely to survive winter if planted in well drained soil. Tolerates poor soil.




Remove faded flower spikes to encourage a second flowering later in the summer. May need support if grown in a windy situation or if other supporting plants are not grown next to it.


Verbascums are prone to attack by the caterpillar of the mullein moth, Cucullia verbasci, which can eat a plant's entire foliage in a day. They are often seen in surprisingly large numbers on one plant, all stuffing themselves solid with Verbascum. They are easily recognisable, when they emerge in early summer, as they are clearly marked in bright yellow and black. Check the plants regularly and pick off the caterpillars off.


By root cuttings, taken in spring or early summer.