When to transplant mature comfrey & mullein plant

fairuse(zone 7a)June 11, 2008


I planted a comfrey cutting too close to my concrete patio and now it is quite large and should be moved to give it more space; also a mullein plant that I planted next to it and thought had died, has come back and now they are enmeshed together.

I have tried online to find out the best time to do this but to no avail. I think that usually it's Spring & Fall when plants are dormant , but I'm not sure which would be best for comfrey and mullein. I only have one plant of each so I would not like to kill them by doing this at the wrong time. I don't really have a green thumb and have problems keeping things alive so I'm a little hesitant to start digging them up unless I know what I'm doing.

Could someone please tell me?



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It is best to transplant when the weather will be mild at least for a week so they can get acclimated.

I had a comfrey once and remember it being quite invasive, if any part of the root is left it will resprout. So don't worry about him!

Some mulleins are biennial, meaning once they bloom they will not be back.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 12:44AM
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With rare exceptions, plants are dormant in winter, and grow gangbusters in spring.

You're going to have a problem with the mullein, which has a long taproot, so you're going to have to dig deep. Plants with a taproot really do NOT like to be transplanted - they don't like having that taproot disturbed. And yes, it's a biennial.

Yes, you're going to have to be careful with the comfrey too. The smallest atom of root broken off and left behind will produce a new plant. I wouldn't worry too much about this, however. If you do get new plants, just pull them out like weeds while they're small and you'll eventually get rid of it from the spot. Mind you, having the prospect of some spare plants coming up could be a comfort if the original plant doesn't survive!

You've learned a valuable lesson - before planting any herb, do some homework to learn just how big they get when grown-up, and how far they spread (not just above-ground, but underground, too). Most beginners are amazed at just how big some herbs get, having expected something that will sit neatly on a windowsill and behave nicely. HA!!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 2:29AM
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fairuse(zone 7a)

Thanks for the replies. Even though this is maybe the third-fourth year the comfrey has grown, it has never flowered.And I can't remember if the mullein ever came up before now. So I don't know if this is the first or second year for it. I guess if it flowers, that means it's the second year? I'm not going to take any of the leaves in case I keep it from flowering, so I'm not going to touch it. If that's the case that moving the mullein would disturb it too much, maybe then I will leave it there and just move the comfrey.


    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 12:51PM
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CA Kate

I was going to recommend not moving the Mullein. If it is smallish then it is 1st year, the second year they can get quite huge (depending on the variety), and they will flower and die. Hopefully some of the seed will set and then you'll have a continuation of plants.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 9:49PM
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If the Comfrey is not getting enough direct sunlight a day, it will not blossom. It can live for awhile in shaded areas, but eventually runs out of food and dies. Possibly the competition from the Mullein has also weakened it.

You might also want to check the soil around the plants. I understand why growers use the lightweight potting "soil" they use, but in my experience if the earthworms do not gradually replace it around a planted herb, the herb tends to die.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 8:36AM
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I've been trying to transplant 1st year mullein rosettes. Every night something is digging up the ones that are closer to the woods and open field, completely destroying them. The ones they don't touch are thriving, but the garden's going to be lop-sided next year since there won't be any mullein flowers in that half! :-)

Has anyone else had this problem? There are quite a few other types of plants there that have not been touched. My guess is a skunk. Not sure why he'd do that, but I don't know who else would either.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2008 at 10:10PM
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Dear fairuse: I had this weird plant growing in an abandoned container on my patio but not doing much for over a year not sure if it was a weed (too interesting!) so I left it alone, when suddenly last spring/summer it shot up 6 feet! A friend from the country came by and asked where the heck a Giant Mullein had come from. First time I learned what it was. It came from a bag of wild bird seed I had purchased, I think, because it is not a plant often seen where I live, wet west coast Canada.
That year it produced a four-foot stalk of yellow flowers and thousands of seeds as fine as black pepper. I shook the flower stalk over a newspaper and kept them. I have since learned that these seeds can remain viable for 100 years!
So if you can bear to leave it for one last chance to bloom (it will re-seed itself and die off) you will be rewarded with seeds enough for a city block!
The abandoned container is FULL of tiny mullein plants, and I am going to attempt to transplant them into a deep barrel, about 4 per. I am hoping for a continuous summer of mullein by staggering the plantings (they only bloom every 2 years). I have also planted a few seeds in another long deep container and am hoping for the best.
It is a very interesting and ancient herbal plant that bears reading up on.
Wishing you success and all the best!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 8:57PM
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