Tuesday, January 06, 2009


Digitalis purpurea

Another shot from the summer archives. Customers are always asking for patches of Foxglove and we have been working on ways to keep them going. Digitalis is a mostly biennial around here. Sometimes a few plants live for more than one year but hardly enough to make an impressive stand. My new way of dealing with this is to buy some new plants every year to supplement any that over wintered or seeded. I have also found not mulching in the Foxglove areas is conducive to getting more seedlings.

Part of doing this blog is so I can learn new information about the flowers that are pictured here and my botanical knowledge has increased dramatically since starting it. When researching Foxglove I was amazed to see all the species, subspecies and cultivars that are available. Most are not seen at garden centers so I am thinking of trying to grow some from seed. That is a two year process until they bloom, however. As a gardener I am always trying to think two or three years ahead so that isn’t a stretch.

In addition to seeing all the new cultivars I learned the basis for the common name of Foxglove. Surprisingly it doesn’t have anything to do with foxes. It is thought that it is a corruption of the phrase ‘folk’s gloves’ referring to fairy folk that used flowers as gloves. The Latin term Digitalis refers to the flowers, which are finger like when emerging.

In general Foxgloves are easy to grow but I have found that when they are happy they tend to thrive. They don’t like wet and dry extremes and do better with a little shade. There doesn’t seem to be too many pests and diseases that affect them. Many of the taller varieties require staking, which is a little bit of work. We now insert a stake at planting time.

This is a picture of Verbena boranensis that I had laying around.


Jan said...

I love gardening too. I like your collections. Happy New Year!

Les said...

When we bought our first house I tried in vain to grow Fox Gloves. I remember them from childhood as near weed status in our neighbor's yard. He was a stern scary state trooper who gardened to unwind and his Fox Gloves were nearly chest high and re-seeded themselves freely. I'll have to enjoy them in my memories.

Shannon said...

I really like foxglove but have never grown it because I had young children when I had a garden and it is quite poisonous. I had lots of herbs in my flower beds so the kids were prone to tasting the plants.