Friday, May 28, 2010

A Truly Perennial Foxglove

Digitalis grandiflora

Though not as showy as Digitalis purpurea or many other (mostly biennial) foxgloves, Digitalis grandiflora is longer-lived. This one has been in our shade garden for five years.

It's lovely in a naturalistic setting, looks great with both hot and cool colors, and thrives here in dry shade. While not native, it's well-behaved in our garden and attractive to pollinators, including hummingbirds. In spite of its delicate appearance, it's a tough plant, unbothered by pests or diseases. Though it's never seeded itself in our garden, other gardeners have reported it to self-seed easily, almost invasively.

Digitalis grandiflora is one of the longest-lived perennial digitalis. Still, ours is old enough that one spring it may not come back. The last of three original plants, (I killed the other two trying to divide them,) last year I saved its seeds, shared some, and started a few in the basement over the summer. The seeds sprouted readily - 100% of them germinated. They were planted out last fall, and will probably bloom for the first time next spring.

Have you grown Digitalis grandiflora? If so what's your experience with it? This year I'll be saving seeds again, some for Monica, and am happy to share seeds if you'd like to try this lovely plant in your garden.


  1. It's very interesting, Linda! I thought that my foxgloves were biannials, but I noticed that some of them come back again and again.I never planted them, they probably came by wind from neighbors or from woods. Your plant is lovely, such a soft yellow color. Thank you for the post, it tells me I need to research more about this plant which is one of my favorites.

  2. Anonymous8:38 AM

    Your foxglove is very pretty, and your shade garden is wonderful! I love shade plants though I really don't have a place to plant any right now.

  3. I've never tried grandiflora but I will. My purpurea are very short lived. Occassionally I get two years of bloom but no more.
    I like the pale yellow color.

  4. The Grandiflora is wonderful. Mine are just beginning to bloom and I have only lost two, one in the front garden and one in back. I am not sure what happened, just didn't come back after a few years.


  5. I like the grandiflora a lot! I haven't grown it, but it looks lovely! I admit I'm intimidated by biennials, really just from a lack of experience growing them. I'd feel more comfortable with a good 'ole perennial.

  6. Hi Linda, can you believe the Garden Faerie doesn't actually have any foxgloves, the quintessential faerie plant? I ask you! Chihuly is tomorrow, I'm bummed you're not coming, but glad you have family fun planned for the Memorial Day weekend. xx<3

  7. Love the color of these! I have the purpurea variety. I put them in last year and they just bloomed for the first time. They're gorgeous - I'm so excited!

    Wondering how long they'll live though -- ?

  8. They're favorites of mine too Tatyana - such pretty, delicate blooms, but tough plants. I should try one of the showier biennial types. If they're as easy to start from seeds as grandiflora, it would be easy to keep them in the garden long-term even if they're biennial.

    Thank you Nancy. I've had 'sun envy' since moving here, but I'm really learning to appreciate shade plants more, while still taking advantage of every little spot where full-sun plants can thrive since I also love lots of bloom.

    Hi Marnie, I'll be happy to save seeds for you - these are such easy plants to start from seeds.

    Hi Eileen - I think it's just the nature of grandiflora - while longer-lived than most foxgloves, they often don't last more than five years or so. It's wonderful when they last even longer, since it seems like the blooms get a little larger and showier every year.

    Hi Rose, if you'd like to try grandiflora I'd be happy to send you seeds. Most likely grandiflora would be perennial for you. The only biennials I've grown were Canterbury bells. That was years ago. I'd like to grow them again - such pretty blooms, and next time I'll save seeds. Way back then I didn't realize they were biennials, and didn't collect seeds. I'm sure I could find seeds on the internet, but that was the only time I'd ever found them at a local nursery.

    Monica, they'd make lovely faerie hats, or maybe even umbrellas for very small fairies! Soon the Garden Faerie will have the quintessential faerie plant in her garden! ;)

    I hope you all have a wonderful time - I'll miss everyone, and miss the Chihuly exhibit.

    JGH, Purpurea is wonderful too - it's really easy to collect seeds from foxgloves. If purpurea is anything like grandiflora, they'll be easy to start from seeds too. They'll probably be short-lived, but you can keep them in your garden easily if they self-seed, or for a little insurance, save some of the seeds so you can start them under more controlled circumstances in pots where they can easily be nurtured until they're strong enough to hold their in your garden. If you'd like to try grandiflora let me know and I'll send you some seeds when they're ready.

  9. Those are nice - I think I tried growing them once with no success. I gave up because the plants themselves were expensive. Maybe I'll try getting seeds this time around?

  10. Hi Rosemarie, I'll be happy to send you seeds when they're ready! I've found grandiflora easy to grow from seeds.

  11. Anonymous10:20 PM

    That looks like a nice one. I've only grown Digitalis p. a few years ago and wish I had grown much more of it and gotten it out of my system. Now I keep seeing Digitalis p. all over the place and want to grow it but I'm afraid the kids would come in contact with it.


Thank you for stopping by! Comments are welcomed, and while I may not always respond here, I'm happy to pay you a visit.

While comments are invited, links to commercial websites are not, and comments containing them will be deleted.

(Note to spammers: Don't bother. Your comments are promptly deleted. Hiding in older posts won't help - they're moderated.)