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Foxglove

Foxglove

If you want to bring naturalness and a touch of magic into your garden, a good choice for you could be a foxglove plant. Almost everyone knows this enchanting perennial, which has a veritable explosion of colour in the garden in late spring and summer. Their elegant, bell-shaped inflorescences make sure that they are not overlooked in the bed or near the edge of woody plants, simply because of their impressive height.

The plants in the Digitalis genus are perfect for gardens and can often be found in clearings or at the edge of a forest. Their separately speckled flower corollas were once interpreted as being traces of fairies that are said to inhabit the plant. A wonderful natural spectacle that is visible to everyone is the large flock of industrious bumblebees that are attracted to this plant in the flowering season. Snails, on the other hand, do not like this flower.

The Fairy Tale Plant With Many Uses

Whether in rather shady, damp areas between ferns, loosely arranged shrubs, under conifers or in a bed with flat-growing perennials, this plant blends in almost anywhere and is particularly wonderful against a dark background. The great variety of colours allow for every conceivable combination with other plants. Digitalis purpurea is available as a garden variety in many colourful mixtures or there are also varieties in elegant, white or pastel shades. Here are some recommendations:

• Colourful foxglove mixtures, for example, ‘Excelsior’ or the Foxy hybrids, harmonise very well with ornamental shrubs such as lady's mantle.

• The white-flowered foxglove emphasises the vertical in the perennial border and is displayed best together with the splendid cranesbill, which forms a sea of ​​flowers in violet.

• The large-flowered Digitalis ambigua is a native wild perennial that develops pretty, pale yellow flowers and fits very well in a natural garden. Compared to Digitalis purpurea, it proves to be quite durable and surprisingly adaptable. It tolerates even temporary dryness in the soil quite well.

   
 
   
 
Foxglove

Interesting Facts

The genus Digitalis belongs to the family of the plantain (Plantaginaceae). The red foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), which can be found on forest paths and clearings, as well as the large-flowered foxglove (Digitalis grandiflora or Digitalis ambigua), which has its natural sites in higher altitudes, and the red foxglove are native to central and northwestern Europe.

A Digitalis plant in a garden is usually biennial; it likes to provide offspring by self-sowing, without ever becoming a nuisance. After the beautiful, winter-green leaf rosette, long inflorescences appear in the following year, which can reach up to 2 metres in height. The distinctive pharynx spots have different colours. Interestingly, the flowers grow towards the light, so that the individual flowers are often oriented towards the sun on one stem. These open up gradually in June from bottom to top and bloom into August. This plant is picky when it comes to visiting insects: the "pharynx flowers" are made for bumblebees - they manage to land on the flowers and crawl into them, thereby assuming the role of a pollinator. If you want to be on the safe side when planting a bee pasture, you should plant an original type of Digitalis and not a hybrid variety.

Poisonous & Medicinal

When you buy one of these plants, you should know that it is beautiful, but also very toxic. In its leaves, in particular, it contains digitalis glycosides, which can be fatal when consumed in small quantities (two leaves) and which initially cause nausea and vomiting. If there are children or animals playing around the house, special care is required. Always wear gloves when handling a Digitalis. At the same time, Digitalis purpurea is also a well-known medicinal plant - as almost always, it is the size of the dose which makes the poison. Plant glycosides have been shown to be very effective in heart failure.

Location & Soil

This plant likes humus-rich, loose, somewhat moist soils, which can tend to be somewhat acidic. Very heavy soils should be mixed with sand or humus. It does not tolerate waterlogging. It likes to thrive in partial shade, but it also feels at home in sunnier locations, provided the soil is not too dry. Direct midday sun should be avoided, however.

The large-flowered Digitalis ambigua can also be found in nature on sunny stone heaps and therefore drier soils, so it tolerates quite a few locations in the garden.

Planting & Maintaining

You can plant a foxglove all year round. Since the plant is best displayed in a group, it is advisable to set several specimens at once. For a lush bloom, it is advantageous to incorporate compost into the soil and then generously apply a mulch layer of rotted leaves. Once the Digitalis has established itself and the location is well chosen, no additional fertilisation is required. In a longer dry phase, you should provide the plant with additional water. Prune the inflorescences in good time if you don't want them to produce seeds.

Propagation

The propagation takes place in a convenient location via seeds. Just leave the inflorescences on the plant for this to happen automatically. Alternatively, you can sow the seeds obtained in early spring in the house and thus multiply them in a targeted manner. A division of the plant is usually not as successful because a foxglove forms a long taproot.

 

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