Mambo Verbascum; a Latin Musician in the Garden
February 26, 2010
Allan in Caribbean Crush, Gardens of a Golden Afternoon, Perennial Plants, Verbascum, perennials

Verbascum Caribbean CrushAt first, I did not remember why I chose not to plant Verbascum.  After all, it is an attractive looking perennial. Over the years, it have never seen it displayed prominently at any of the nurseries I frequent and it never occured to me to plant it. The big box stores would carry it in tiny pots but the flowers always looked messy, as they struggled to find their patch of sunshine. In fact, very little grows at big box stores in 2 inch pots that can make our hearts sing.

Last spring, in the opening weeks of business, my favorite nursery displayed a new variety of Verbascum, already in bloom. I could not resist purchasing some for my own and my clients’ gardens. The variety is called Caribbean Crush and its hot coloration makes me want to get up and dance the Mambo! The configuration of the multicolor ruffled petals, ranging in shades of mango, yellow and rosy peach, is reminiscent of the ruffled sleeves worn by conga drum players in the Cuban dance bands of the 1950’s.

My adventurousness was rewarded when I discovered that this perennial would bloom for three months from June to August, as long as the spent stalks were removed. It was rather disappointing to see it reach dormancy at the end of the season, because it had been visually entertaining. I cannot say that it truly fit into my personal cool colored garden but it did look great in the gardens of clients that asked for showstoppers.

I found this effective composition of Salvia and Verbascum [ the pink flowers are not identified] at < Gardens of a Golden Afternoon >. Click on the image to visit a beautiful site.The perennial grows almost 4 feet tall, in sun, in zones 5 to 9. It needs a well-   drained soil because wet soil will lead to its demise. Eventually, I remembered why I never planted Verbascum in the past. It is a short- lived perennial. The nursery had posted that information on their website and I had overlooked it. If it does not return to bloom this coming season, I will not be disappointed, because it gave me, and my clients, great pleasure. Some gardeners will pay for only one season’s delight when a plant is too beautiful to ignore.

Article originally appeared on Garden Design, Montreal, Perennial Flower Gardens, Gardening Tips, Gardening Advice, Gardening Book Reviews (
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