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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Saturday - July 09, 2011

From: Starkville, MS
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Propagation
Title: Non-native Moth Mullein as a garden plant from Starksville MS
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I collected seeds from a beautiful Moth Mullein growing in a lot which will soon be bulldozed. Would I regret sowing them in the back of a sunny perennial bed this fall. These are from the white-pink variety. Thanks

ANSWER:

Well, we would certainly regret it. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which those plants grow natively. Verbascum blattaria, moth mullen, is native to Africa, Asia and Central Southern Europe. This article from Illinois Wildflowers has the most comprehensive information on it that we could find. Some of the information we extracted from that includes that it self-seeds freely and you would need to be constantly deadheading the flowers to prevent the seeding. It is considered a seed contaminant; in other words, seeds may be gathered for other plants but the seeds from Moth Mullein may be co-mingled, compromising the usefulness of the original seed. It has attractive flowers and unattractive foliage. Putting it in a garden bed with good soil and plentiful water is just asking for trouble for your other plants.

 

 

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