Health & Wellbeing / Herbs / Recipes

Using Mullein for Earache and Cough Relief

The German word for Mullein translate as “King’s Candle” and it is a truly majestic plant on our herb farm. Mullein chooses where to grow and doesn’t like to be cultivated. We let it self seed each year and have it grown throughout the gardens. We take out the rosettes when they are in the way and leave them on the edges of the garden beds so we can harvest the leaves for our Lung Support Tea and the flowers in summer for our Mullein Ear Drops. If you want to grow it in your garden, you can get seeds from us.

Mullein in flower at KoruKai Herb Farm, Banks Peninsula, New Zealand.

Mullein (verbascum thapsus) is an upright biannual herb growing a rosette in its first year and a flower spike up to 2 metres tall in the second year of its lifecycle. In our moderate climate they often grow a rosette in spring followed by the flower spike in late summer or even autumn. Seeds germinating in autumn may grow the flower spike in early summer after the winter period.

Mullein rosette in its first year.

It has big, slightly hairy and soft leaves and makes a great natural toilet paper in the bush or when toilet paper is sold out in the supermarkets due to Covid madness shopping.

Mullein grows on open uncultivated land and along roadsides. It does not like to be transplanted and is very picky about where it grows.

Majestic Mullein at KoruKai Herb Farm.

We harvest the leaves end spring/early summer before it starts to grow the massive flower spike and harvest the flowers in the middle of summer at around noon on a sunny day when they are at their most potent. Flowers need to be dry (so don’t harvest straight after rain) and we use the ones that are nice and open or just begin to open up. When harvesting in the wild avoid dusty roadsides or sprayed areas.

Flower picking in the middle of summer.

Mullein is a valuable herb for coughs and congestion. The leaves and flowers can be dried and combined with other herbs like thyme, licorice and hyssop and turned into a tea to treat coughs and asthma like our Lung Support Tea.

We steep the fresh flowers in sunflower oil and use it as a remedy to treat ear infections and ear ache along with garlic and onion. This is an amazing natural remedy and with mullein growing throughout New Zealand and is easily identified, it provides a valuable remedy for home use. It proved successful to treat ear infections as stated by a few customers that bought ourĀ KoruKai Mullein Ear Drops and antibiotic treatment was not needed.

Recipe: Mullein Oil – A Natural Ear Ache Remedy

Freshly harvested mullein flowers
Carrier oil like sunflower oil or olive oil

1)   Fill a small jar half way with the fresh mullein flowers and add enough oil so all flowers are submerged.

2)   Place jar somewhere visible in your kitchen and wipe the water that evaporates off the lid and sides with a clean cloth every couple of days. Make sure flowers are submerged to prevent mould and push them down with a spoon if needed.

3)   Steep for 4-6 weeks.

4)   Strain oil though a muslin cloth and let the water (that was contained in the flowers) settle to the bottom of the container overnight.

5)   Decant the mullein infused oil making sure to not get any water from the bottom and store in a jar. An amber glass jar with a glass dripulator is best.

6)   To use it simply warm up the oil to body temperature and put 2-3 drops directly into the affected ear canal while lying on the side. Lie in this position for 5 min. Repeat 2-3 times per day.

Seek professional advice if symptoms persist or earache is combined with fever especially in children.

Mullein Candles

Once the flower spikes are nice and dry, they can be dipped in beeswax or soy wax and make amazing candles. We do this every winter and go on a late evening walk with the kids before bed time. This is very exciting for them.


  • Darci
    7 December, 2021 at 9:22 pm

    Hi! I bought the seeds and threw them into my wildflower mix before scattering on my cultivated flower bed. I don’t think they came up, but then again I don’t know if the small leaves look like mini versions of the ones in your photos? Do you think this was a bad spot to scatter the seeds, and if so, should I scatter them in my veggie garden or somewhere else instead? Thanks for your advice!

    • Cornelia Holten
      7 December, 2021 at 9:27 pm

      Here the growing recommendations from our seed order page: Mullein has a deep tap root and doesn’t like disturbance, so they are best sown directly. We recommend sprinkling the seeds on a well prepared garden bed. Sprinkle them generously to get a good strike rate. Do this at the end of winter. Cover seeds with some soil and protect with some bird netting.
      I would have done them separately and not in a mix.

  • Gayle
    23 January, 2021 at 8:38 pm

    Thanks for the interesting article and recipe. I’ve loved this beautiful plant since I was a child so it’s great to know how beneficial it is too.


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