Your thoughts on Digiplexis 'Illumination Flame'

aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. CanadaMay 22, 2014

I just picked up a plant of this yesterday, I think it will be borderline iffy here. Should I plant it in a container so I can move it into a cool greenhouse for the winter or I could plant it in my garden room ( lattice walls, fibreglass roof). I have successfully grown Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata' here even when the temps have dipped below zero F. without any damage to it.

Annette

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Connie K

In my zone, this is being touted as the new must have plant, but it is an annual here. At $8 a plant, it is a very expensive annual, but I did buy one to try. I won't be bringing it in over the winter, because I have zero luck doing that.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 5:39PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Diggingdirt, oh really? Which nurseries have them? I was keeping my eyes peeled for them at Groffs Plant Farm and did not see any.
In any case at least based on pictures, I think the old plain foxglove hybrid 'Spice Island' was a better looking plant. It might be interesting to try but I think the Isoplexis would probably dominate viz-a-viz the performance of the plant and thus I would expect it to hate both eastern summers and winters. A lot of Macaronesian flora is suspectible to rotting in summer in the Eastern US climate, in my experience. I've tried Canary Echiums in pots a couple times and they invariably die after a muggy summer thunderstorm.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 10:29AM
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Campanula UK Z8

I am not terribly impressed (my daughter grew Illumination pink) - a tiny little thing....but then I often think bi-generic hybrids can be a bit dodgy. If you are keen on the colouring, you could do worse than sow seeds of the Polkadot digitalis (Goldcrest, Polly, Pippa et al.) They are also sterile (therefore long blooming, reliably perennial and hardy to Z5 at least. I have also tried isoplexis (it died) but this hybrid is more hardy (although we had a mild winter)

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 2:54PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Thanks, I'll see how it goes, I think I'll pot it up in a tub, then I can move it into the greenhouse for the winter. If it survives I'll plant it in my garden room next spring.

Annette

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 3:23PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

"but then I often think bi-generic hybrids can be a bit dodgy"
Agreed, sometimes the genetic complementarity just isn't there.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 8:49PM
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Connie K

David, I just bought one at Groff's on Thursday. I had to ask for it, and it was way back in a corner to the left of the annual greenhouses. They were not promoting it like two other greenhouses were. But it was half the price of the one I bought at Henry's Greenhouse in Holtwood.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 8:50PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

diggingdirt...thanks, with my luck I will go back and it will be sold out haha.
You really wonder if the wholesalers even bothered testing these things in the eastern US climate, even as annuals. But they micropropagate millions of them and they know if it doesn't perform satisfactorily, it still takes a couple seasons for punters to give up and stop buying them. But Groff's prices are so reasonable I might go up there and grab one.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 10:45AM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

It went through two ferocious heat waves here in full sun (dawn to 5 pm) without a bit of damage. It didn't even droop. I was amazed. I too wonder if it will be an expensive annual. Anyone remember Coreopsis 'Sweet Dreams'?

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 10:49AM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

" I too wonder if it will be an expensive annual. "
No I suspect they will be fine in southern California as long as they have water whenever it turns out that they want water. Isoplexis is used to dry, albeit foggy summers...think Bay Area or even Santa Barbara, but not interior southern California.

Well, I got a couple last month...at $5 a pop versus the $15 Park Seed wanted and the $20 that Wayside wanted, it seemed like a "no brainer". Trying them in 2 slightly different exposures to get a feel for their possible tolerance of conditions here. Still worried they are at best going to be shy bloomers, at worse not tolerate our mugginess and go into decline, and/or not survive winters here. (which have averaged to zone 8, even including last year)
Can't believe how popular they are though, with American catalog retailers all selling out. Presumably even Groff's has sold out now. The buzz _here_ doesn't seem like it would have warranted that...I can only guess gardeners are seeing their pictures on facebook or something, or have heard about it being a "plant of the year": http://www.thompson-morgan.com/flowers/flower-plants/perennial-and-biennial-plants/foxglove-illumination/p92671TM "Oy, punters, you can have the excitement of the Chelsea Flower Show right in your own garden!" I can just hear Burt Large saying that.

Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.thompson-morgan.com/flowers/flower-plants/perennial-and-biennial-plants/foxglove-illumination/p92671TM

This post was edited by davidrt28 on Wed, Jun 18, 14 at 5:58

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 5:52AM
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Connie K

Mine have been planted for a month and have not done much of anything other than to put on a little more green. The way they were being promoted, I expected flowers by this time. I'm beginning to suspect that it's going to behave like a perennial as far as bloom period is concerned, but behave as an annual as far as surviving the winter is concerned. Unless it has amazing flowers like Lloyd at Peace Tree Farm in Bucks County promised, I won't repeat this next year.

David, I notice you list zone 7 for yourself, yet shop at Groff's. So I guess you're not in Lancaster County?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 1:54PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Shortly after I planted mine in a tub (May 24) it sent up a flower spike. This picture was taken today, The next pic is a closeup of the flower spike. Annette

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 2:49PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Closeup of the flower spike.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 2:51PM
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Connie K

Thanks Annette. I'm hoping that the fact you are in zone 8 is the reason yours put up a spike and mine didn't.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 3:00PM
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rouge21_gw(5)

What a coincidence as I bought the same one this past weekend. Of course it is definitely an annual here in my neck of the woods. According to this independent nursery it has been flying off the shelf. I guess as digginginthedirt had written, it does seem to be the must have new (annual) this season.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 3:13PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Actually, the powers that be now say I'm in Zone 7, a or b ? I haven't figured it out yet LOL.

Annette

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 3:50PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Diggingdirt...I am roughly 1 mile from the upper Chesapeake Bay, so my climate is definitely zn 7. (low of 3F this winter, albeit 3 times which was the real killer)
So, Groff's is not a bad drive. And there's no one to match them as a place to buy reasonably priced perennials and annuals that I know of. Not even close. The old Styer's was great but even it didn't have the selection, how could they? Groffs is huge. I've heard of some big place down in Sussex Co. Delaware, I forget the name now, but I've never ventured down there to find out.
BTW I have relatives in Bucks Co. so I'm anxious to try this "Peace Tree Farm" which I've never heard of. I did finally go to Hortulus last year, not a place I'd shop as they focus on preplanted potted gardens and greenhouse plants, but quite amazing. I had no idea it was so big, they must have spent a fortune on it. EDIT: Oh, I see they are wholesalers. Anyhow, interesting to know they were promoting the plant, too. There are actually quite a lot of interesting under-the-radar wholesalers in NJ, PA, & probably DE...you find out about them on a need to know basis LOL. For example you'd never guess but I met a woman in NJ who's company supposedly has a lot of Worsleyas, but according to someone else I met at that party, mostly sells them wholesale? To whom I wonder? Maybe to Hortulus to put in $500 verdigris-finish planters.

This post was edited by davidrt28 on Thu, Jun 19, 14 at 17:22

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 5:05PM
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Connie K

David, my garden club took a field trip to Peace Tree Farm, which was the only way a lay person can get in. It was absolutely fascinating if you can find a group to visit.

Yes, Groff's is amazing, and I discovered it on the Pennsylvania forum many years ago. Surprisingly, no one in my part of the county has ever heard of it. When I asked Groff's about it, they told me that people from north of Lancaster feel like they are falling off the edge of the earth when they drive there. I had to laugh, because that's exactly how I feel every time I visit. But there's no other place like it!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 6:48PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Thanks for the tip. I hope you've been to Rarefind at some point? Also Tripleoaks in NJ has an interesting display garden for trees & shrubs, especially. Did you get to visit Asiatica before it closed?
Funny what you say about people's mentalities...I think the same thing is true here. I once told a local lady I sometimes drove to the Concord Mall north of Wilmington instead of just going to the Christiana Mall (which is still a hike from here) and she was like "really, you drive all the way up there? What have they got up there?" It was like I'd told her I go to NYC to buy clothes or something. In reality it's only 20 minute longer drive. And actually the difference isn't the mall per se, but what is around them. Much more interesting shops along the Concord Pike area like Trader Joe's (and at the very end of it, the old Styers, before 2008)

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 8:30PM
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gardengal48

I was resisting this plant for some reason - regular digitalis is a weed around here - but then I saw it in bloom and knew I had to have one for the hummers! Mine has three flower spikes on it and looks like more to come and is in full sun and has that smoky coral/pink/orange color that the garden mags portray. Was rather pricey (even with my discount) for a so-called 'seasonal' plant but the most amazing things winter over in my very mild coastal garden so I am keeping my fingers crossed :-)

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 3:33PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Mine in the picture above is slightly shaded under a fibreglass roof in my garden room, it's a dull day today so I think I'll move it out where it will get more sun and see if it makes a difference to the color.

Annette

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 6:07PM
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Connie K

Well, both of mine are still just "sitting" there. Here it is the middle of July and nothing that looks even close to a spike. At this point, I've written them off as a waste of money. So disappointed.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 9:05PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Diggingin did yours ever flower?
The one I put in the ground did, the one I left in a pot for next year (in case the outside one doesn't make it) did not flower.
Overall at least in terms of tolerating our summer conditions, I must say I'm pleasantly surprised. For a plant that is 1/2 Canarian and not likely to enjoy humidity. Now the test will be the winter. BTW the flower spike lasted longer than a typical digitalis spike would have and has been going for well over a month.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 7:46AM
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rouge21_gw(5)

I have had mine in a planter for 2 months and I am very underwhelmed. It appears to be healthy and it blooms but nothing special in terms of quantity and colour. There are so many choices for annuals that are much superior.

This post was edited by rouge21 on Sat, Aug 23, 14 at 7:52

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 7:50AM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

So far so good with mine I'm quite liking it, I moved it out from undercover into a sunnier spot. Once the flower spike had passed it's best I cut it off and 4 more smaller spikes appeared, they're still blooming but have seen better days. Now to see if it will winter for me, it's in a container so I can move it into my cool greenhouse for the winter if needed, just enough heat in there to keep it above freezing.

Annette

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 8:45AM
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Connie K

No, David, mine never flowered! Never did I imagine that a plant with this hype would have just sat in the ground and done...absolutely nothing! It's the end of August, so I've given up hope. No flower spikes!!! How can that be?? I am very annoyed. And since it was sold to me as an annual, I don't expect anything from it next year. This is a total waste!

It also makes me very cautious about buying promoted plants at the same establishment next year. I'll need to be more cautious.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 9:43AM
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Connie K

Maybe I spoke (wrote) too soon. I just went outside to check my plants again, and a miracle has occurred! One of my plants has three spikes starting. It had nothing on Wednesday, and we were gone Thursday and Friday. The spikes don't appear to be heavily budded, but we'll see.

The other plant still looks the same. I'm still not impressed with this plant at all.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 9:57AM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Thanks for the follow ups. Am I "impressed" with it? Well it's more interesting looking than the wild Digitalis purpurea that seed around in another part of my garden, both because the flower is more attractive and the foliage doesn't get whatever black mold hits the wild ones. (probably just a function of a more open site) Do I think it's the prettiest plant in the garden? No. It is what it is...I'm still glad I bought it, especially at the $5 Groff's was charging. I would be underwhelmed if I'd paid $20 for it, which is what some mail order nurseries were charging.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 1:13PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Btw if the hybrid from about 10 years ago 'Spice Island' were still available in the US, it would definitely be showier, and likely a hardier performer in the garden. It was also very long blooming and never appeared to make viable seed for me. Come on wholesalers...get your act together! It's still marketed in the UK!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 1:16PM
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echinaceamaniac(7)

I was very disappointed in this plant. It turned black and died after flowering. I don't think it liked the heat and humidity. It is all hype.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 7:45PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

EM, my plant is getting afternoon shade. Maybe that is the difference? Believe me, I've grown scores of (truly) humidity sensitive plants...or more correctly tried to grow them. This plant doesn't seem particularly humidity sensitive to me. OTOH, it's only been one year. I wouldn't want people to jump to conclusions. The high altitude South African forbs like Sebaea, Glumicalyx, Gazania, or Wahlenbergia can cruise along fine for half of the summer until a big rainstorm comes along. BAM...they are literally dead overnight. No matter how well drained the soil is.
Big test now will be getting mine through winter. I'm not a protector but it's at least in a sheltered spot, near my feijoa bushes that returned from their roots after this winter. I might give it a little extra mulch but no more than that. It is 50% Digitalis purpurea, and those are pretty darn hardy, self-seeding in interior New England.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2014 at 8:59AM
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arbo_retum(z5 ,WinchstrMA)

annette, would you plse tell more about your garden room? what is it- and what is its construction,size and sun exposure, and what do you use it for? do you overwinter anything in it? i see you have a cold greenhouse-how wonderful.

can you grow phormiums and do they take your winters? I want them sooo badly but have spent lots of $ on them and lost them inside because i don't have any cold storage area w/ light. no garage, no cold cellar (ours actually IS a 'cold cellar' because it dates to 1815, but it stays around 60 because it is so small and has our water heater, furnace and freezers.)

OT: annette, have you ever been to the gardens at Chosin Pottery? Visiting there 10 or so yrs ago was one of my life's greatest experiences. if you haven't been PLSE GO!!

Here is a link that might be useful: gardens at Chosin Pottery, Vancouver Isl. B.C.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2014 at 4:27PM
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kimka

Well, mine has been in repeat bloom pretty much all summer in part sun. with more and more spikes in each wave, which is much better than foxgloves do. I like the color combination in the flowers. The real test will be if it comes back next spring.

But I'm still happy I paid $6 dollars on discount for it and not more.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2014 at 5:19PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

arbo, I haven't been to Robin and Judi's garden but my DS2 has, he lives very close to them. Our garden club was lucky to have Robin give talk and show sides of their amazing garden and pottery at one of our meetings so I can imagine the thrill you had seeing it in person.

As to my garden room, nothing spectacular, I have a few pictures taken from a couple of years ago and as I only know how to post one picture at a time I'll put it in a separate thread later tonight, going out for dinner shortly, our 58th wedding anniversary :).

Annette

    Bookmark   August 31, 2014 at 5:37PM
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Connie K

Well, one of mine bloomed, if you could call it that. The flowers were unimpressive. The other plant still has not bloomed. What a waste!

    Bookmark   September 21, 2014 at 10:16PM
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rouge21_gw(5)

My experience too 'diggin'. I had it in a properly placed planter with quality potting soil and it just muddled through the summer.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2014 at 12:26PM
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dbarron(z7_Arkansas)

Personally, just looking at the photo here, the flower form doesn't appeal to me (it's worse than a normal digitalis bloom imo).

    Bookmark   September 22, 2014 at 12:49PM
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gardengal48

Mine has been blooming all summer as well. Right now has 8 flower spikes on it and more coming. Mine is on a wide open, south facing deck in full sun. Container planting, obviously. So far, I am very satisfied with the performance of this plant........and the hummers sure do like it! Will keep my fingers crossed on the overwintering chances. Just not at all sure about that.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2014 at 4:19PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Garden gal, mine also has been blooming all summer but you have me pouting, mine only has 4 spikes on it right now and can't see any new ones forming. So far I'm really liking this plant, if it overwinters it's a keeper.

Annette

    Bookmark   September 22, 2014 at 6:39PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Mine finally stopped blooming a few days ago after--I think I got it back in March, and it was in bloom when I got it. It bloomed all spring and all summer. It has a lot of new foliage now, so it may start blooming again--I still wonder if it so going to be around next year--I don't know. I guess I got my money's worth out of it. It is planted in full sun, sunrise to sunset, and it doesn't get a whole lot of water.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2014 at 6:49PM
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gardengal48

Annette, to be perfectly honest, I am certain there is more than one plant in the pot, hence the number of bloom stalks :-)) The owner of my nursery (the one I work with) grew these plants himself from plugs and we offered them for sale in various sizes. I opted for a big one to start - 2G container - and there looks to be about 3 plants in it.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2014 at 4:17PM
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KurtMN

I did get Digiplexis this spring and I'm not sure if I like it or not. It's not a very strong grower. I noticed that in windy rainy weather it fell over and I had to stake it up. Unfortunately the growing tips had bent upwards just over night and they didn't unbend after being staked so I had rather bent stems that went one way and then the other. It flowered okay, but when summer got here, it sorta stopped. If it makes it through the winter fine if not fine, but I don't know if I'd buy this plant again.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2014 at 9:59AM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Not looking very promising so far, at least from my POV, for winter hardiness. Although it's only been down to about 20F/-6.6C so far (http://www.wunderground.com/personal-weather-station/dashboard?ID=KMDNORTH18#history/s20141031/e20141130/mmonth) the top of it is looking quite crispy and brown, with only a bit of possibly promising green near the base. By contrast:
the wild foxgloves in my yard are still green as can be, and practically look like they are growing in today's mild weather. I just sprayed a few with herbicide because they've spread beyond the parts of the yard where it used to seem cute to let them self-seed.
Phygelius 'Devils' Tears' top growth is still strong with some stems trying to bloom if we had another week of mild weather which we probably won't.
Similarly, Delospermas in sheltered spots are budding up as though to bloom.
Mahonia X media F2 seedling opened its first floret today.

So...not really a portrait of zn 7/8 hardiness. It is entirely possible that, rather than being intermediate in hardiness, it will only be as hardy as the tenderest parent...in this case the zn 9b-10a Macaronesian Digitalis. (formerly Isoplexis) I still have one inside that will become a permanent container plant if need be. I'm not really into container plants but have a few...in any case I'm glad I only paid a few dollars for these now and not the $15-20 that national catalog merchants wanted. Thank you Groff's plant farm!

    Bookmark   December 1, 2014 at 5:32PM
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Connie K

It was promoted as an annual when I purchased it, so I don't expect to see it in the spring. What a bust! Never again. If it sounds too good to be true....

    Bookmark   December 9, 2014 at 11:00PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Yes I suppose I should clarify, Groffs was selling it as an annual. I'm not implying there was deception on anyone's part - the national vendors were listing it as a zn 8 perennial. It will be interesting to know if the ones in the PNW survive though, as the Isoplexii (haha) were generally considered too tender ever for that climate, when they started becoming more common around 2000.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2014 at 10:00AM
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rusty_blackhaw(6a)

I don't avoid pricey temperennials on principle. If they provide a good show and (especially) if they can be propagated/stored indoors to grow in following seasons, I'll use them in the garden (for instance, Brugmansias, cannas and all manner of subtropicals grown from cuttings and tubers).

I'm not crazy about the Digiplexis, mainly the color and lack of hardiness/propagatibility. If I'm looking for that form, there are plenty of Digitalis hybrids and species that are more attractive.

It fits into a nurseryman's dream category - an expensive plant that must be repurchased annually (like most hybrid mums, poinsettias etc.).

    Bookmark   December 13, 2014 at 11:41AM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Mine is hanging in, when the temperature dropped drastically the first frost here was a killer we ended up with temps below freezing for a week or so. I moved the container mine is planted in to my cool greenhouse, the top growth died off but it has popped several new crowns. Now we're in the midst of the pineapple express, temps at least 10 degrees above normal for this time of year, torrential rain, lots of flooding and mudslides are doing a lot of damage on V.I. but we're OK other than we have a boil water alert on.
I hate to think what this fluctuation in temps is doing to my garden as I know we will eventually have another freeze. It looks like this particular plant falls in with Brugmansias and needs the same kind of care.

Annette

    Bookmark   December 13, 2014 at 12:40PM
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