Campanula UK Z8June 13, 2014

In true obsessive style, why have one type of foxglove when you can have dozens.....and, heartened by a little success in the woods, this has been a digitalis year. Mostly, common old purpurea, but also D.lutea, grandiflora, parviflora, dubia, heywoodii and now, completely new to me, seeds arrived for the willow-leaved foxglove, aka Sunset foxglove, D.obscura. What a beauty (at least looking at interweb images).
Anyone familiar with this little Spanish foxglove? Sounds like it might be a winner for those of you who garden on well-drained, droughty soil....and it will grow in shade (dry) too.

Do tell me about your foxglove adventures as this little craving is showing no signs of abating just yet (and I have not even started on penstemons....although P.grandiflora arrived also today). I was meant to be cutting myself some slack on this seed-sowing lark......failing already.

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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

I have tried several times to grow foxgloves - with no luck at all! The seeds germinate fine and sometimes the plants survive the first year in the ground, but then they are never seen again.... No year two plant; no flowers, ever! I've given up and am content to admire them in other people's pictures. So post lots of pictures of your collection.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 8:28PM
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Ditto woodyoak's post. The seeds sprout, the plants grow to a healthy size, I plant out, they die. I'm guessing they don't like my slightly acid sandy loam despite the good drainage.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 9:23PM
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have lots of winter sown foxglove in the garden and are growing well. I hope they don't disappear on me next year. So far they are doing well.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 10:50PM
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princessgrace79(8 PNW)

I have tons, and I mean tons of them....they must like where I live bc I planted two last year and now I have two dozen....I have a lot of part shade areas so I very much welcome their pretty color.

We are fairly similar to england in climate except our summers are warmer and sunnier.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 2:08AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I enjoy Foxglove and have not planted it in a long time. I do see maybe a dozen or so scattered around the garden every year, but after last winter, I see only one. So it might be time to start more seeds. I like the D. purpurea the best so far. I'd like to find the tallest. I tried 'Shirley's Giant' but I would like something even taller.

I wonder if mulching beds has a lot to do with whether they reseed or not. I have mulched heavily some years and it was only after a few years of not getting to do that, that I saw volunteers.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 7:51PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I tried the spanish "obscura" but I got a huge summer deadline during the year that I planted it and my cuddling was curtailed during the summer drought (110). It died.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 2:53PM
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a2zmom(6a - nj)

I grow ambigua as you can see here:

This year I had so many babies I gave away about a doizen of them. Sadly, with all the heavy rain the flower stalks are leaning like mad.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 3:50PM
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Campanula UK Z8

Oh, very niceA2zmom - I have a dozen or so of these - I confess it was quite tricky to grow (compared to purpurea) - the tiny seedlings looked wretched for ages, spindly and distorted. I think I pricked them out a bit early and they sulked....the seedlings are about 4inches now and over the worst. Lots of seedlings is exactly want I want to hear.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 5:47PM
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a2zmom(6a - nj)

Amusingly enough, across from that garden is my house which has an area in front of it that needs to be planted. Currently, it's a weedy mess but the foxglove and hollyhock that seeded in there both look better than what's in the actual garden!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 6:22PM
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I've had the same experience as woodyoak and gardenweed.
The plants self-seed, the seeds germinate, the seedlings grow to a decent size by fall and then they disappear over the winter. I thought our winters might be too harsh but I've heard people in our area say they have them come back every year. Maybe the soil makes a difference.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 8:40PM
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I placed 2 foxgloves with my hostas.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 11:29PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

One of my current pet peeves is that the excellent 'Spice Island' is no longer available in the US. It grew fine for me for about 4 years, and the declined, which is what you'd expect for a short-lived perennials in a hot climate. No matter, it looked great for 3 of the years and so so for the last. If I'd known it would become commercially extinct here I would have tried to take cuttings or divisions, even though it's a "patented" variety. I don't see how they can prove any wrongdoing unless I'd tried to sell them to someone else.

Could not resist trying the new Digitalis X Isoplexis hybrid 'Illumination Flame': which is really just Digitalis X Digitalis these days but the Macaronesian flora is so different I'm not really sure such botanical lumping was warranted. Plain foxgloves will practically grow as weeds on good garden soils and favorable exposures in the mid-Atlantic, so I have some hope that it will be tough enough to survive both a winter and a summer. I'd still rather have a 'Spice Island', which I know grew reliably here, and IMHO had better looking foliage. (The Digiplexis foliage seems more like plain D. purpurea foliage in overall effect, though is clearly of hybrid origin. While 'Spice Island' had finer, glossier foliage. It was probably a superior breeding effort)

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 5:28AM
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Campanula UK Z8

David- you might like the Polkadot hybrids - Polly, Pippa, Pandora (and a horrid pink, Princess). These are proving to be fantastic plants - strong, reliably perennial and fabulously long flowered - the entire season if cut back after the first flush. Sterile, so no seeding....but they are doing very well in my woods with no attention and competing with the hogweed and anthriscus. Great colours, glossy strong foliage, but only easily available from seed.

Just come back from the woods where the purpureas are over 8feet tall!! Have never seen them so big - must be stretching for the light as the internodes between flowers are widely spaced....but very graceful.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 5:22PM
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Campanula, you're not alone! I, too, am more that a little obsessed with foxgloves. Before I ever had a garden, the one I planted in my mind contained spires of foxgloves. They've always seemed such a delicate and magical plant.

Among my favorites is digitalis ferruginea, for its height, ability to remain as straight as an arrow without staking, and its strange earthy color that somehow works with everything. Although it reseeds enthusiastically, the seedlings are easy to recognize and remove. The plant itself has, compared to other foxgloves, a small footprint, as its basal foliage is limited in diameter.

I also adore digitalis lutea. The color is similar to the buttery yellow of grandiflora/ambigua but I think lutea has a superior form. The flowers themselves are smaller and less "clunky", the plant itself is taller, and the stems are stronger.

I'm looking forward to seeing the first blooms of digitalis parviflora, which I started from seed in 2012. It looks great so far - upright and clad in grey velvety leaves. Can't wait to see it in its spendor!

I'm growing digitalis heywoodii this year (from seed), but won't have blooms until next year. I think it will be great.

I grow digitalis trojana as well. It is reliable, but lacks the striking color of some of the others.

I haven't grown purpurea for years, although I did try digitalis x mertonensis. I'm probably in the minority here, but I really disliked both the muddy pink color and the ungainly form of the plant. To me, there was nothing elegant about it, which is the charactaristic of foxgloves that has always appealed most to me.

Digitalis obscura looks very enticing! That may be the next one I try! I also like the looks of stewartii, which, according to PlantWorld seeds, can grow about six feet tall. Nice! Imagine walking through a forest of those while the bees are busily buzzing about. I think I would feel like a child in an enchanted garden!

And one day I will have a huge swath of digitalis 'Alba'. In the garden I grow in my mind, it is pristine and utterly elegant, making all other plants look like stodgy lumps. I love foxgloves!


    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 8:34PM
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Nevermore44 - 6a

The purpurea types don't seed down well for me with the shredded leaf mulch... or i just don't keep an eye out while weeding.

I have started other "perennial" types from seed last year..via Chiltern... who have too many types to pick from.

I have not idea what these two are... i need to track that down.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 10:04AM
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Connie K

I've had no luck with seeds (multiple times), and finally purchased perennial plants, which died over the winter. What's the secret to growing these as a perennial?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 1:57PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I believe they are biennial, aren't they? In my yard, they drop seed after flowering, and those germinate, produce small basal foliage that survives the winter to bloom the next year. Much like Lunaria.

DtD, the most success I had starting seed of this plant was with winter sowing. I had a lot of germination and plenty of plants using this method. I want more for next year and that will be my method of choice.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 2:01PM
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Nevermore44 - 6a

The purpurea are biennial... but there are many more variants that are perennial... or short lived perennials.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 3:22PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Thanks for the tip campanula, on the Polkadot hybrids. Their colors aren't especially appealing, and I'm not even sure they are widely available here in the states. I'll check for them the next time I'm at Groff's Plant Farm. But your post was helpful - in investigating them, I found out about a new yellow one called 'Goldcrest' which seems promising as a replacement for 'Spice Island'. Alas, the handful of American sources have sold out. But at least that means they might reorder for next year.

Here is a link that might be useful:

This post was edited by davidrt28 on Thu, Jun 19, 14 at 16:59

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 4:52PM
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