Perennial Flower Information
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Digitalis – Foxglove, Witches’ Thimbles
A well grown Foxglove in
full flower is a plant of dignity and beauty. The long
flowering spikes grow from 3 feet to 6 feet tall, rising
high above large clumps of broad, downy leaves. Upon
the flowering stalk, the flowers open slowly as the
impulse to bloom moves upward. This tends to lengthen
the blooming season. The flowers are tubular or bell-shaped
and hang closely on one side of the stem so that sometimes
four rows try to occupy the same position. This arrangement
is more apparent than real, for the flowers really originate
on all sides of the stem, but the short stems somehow
twist around so that they all seem to be on one side.
These spikes which are so tall and erect, bear the small,
thimble-like flowers in many colors-white, lilac, purple,
rose and yellow-with odd and various shadings and markings.
They bloom in .June and July.
D. purpurea is the
commoner sort and bears purple to white flowers. There
is, however an interesting form of D. purpurea, known
as Monstrosa, or the Mammoth Foxglove, which has a large
saucershaped flower surmounting the spike.
D. grandiflora (ambigua)
is the yellow flowered species. It has smaller,
narrower leaves and does not attain the height of D.
The Wooly Foxglove (D.
lanata) is an interesting sort with long, dense
spikes of small, grayish flowers marked with yellow.
This sort does not resemble the other Foxgloves.
Utilize. They are planted
in masses in the garden among the shrubs in solid beds,
in the border, in the orchard or naturalized on the
edge of the woods or along brooks. Wherever they are
planted, they give an appearance of strength and dignity.
They are excellent for decorations where tall-spiked
flowers are needed. Foxgloves are beautifully combined
with Sweet Williams and Hardy Grass Pinks. A whole border
of this combination is suggested. Foxgloves need no
edging plants as their foliage is most attractive, even
at the soil.
GENERAL. Foxgloves succeed
well in any garden soil which has been enriched with
old manure. They naturalize very readily in half shaded
positions, but will grow in full sunlight if the ground
is moist. If the main flowering stem is cut after it
has finished blooming, many others will come up. Liquid
manure should be given to the plants during the flowering
season. They require a light Winter protection, which
must not be given however, until after a good freezing
of the soil. Dry leaves or pine boughs will serve as
a sufficient covering for the foliage. Dampness, either
from ill-drained soil or too much mulching, will injure
the plants quicker than anything else. The leaves must
be kept dry and on mild days plenty of air should be
given to prevent sweating and heating.
PROPAGATION. Foxgloves are
propagated most easily from seeds which should be sown
every year in order to have blooming plants the next
year. The Foxgloves are treated as biennials. The seed
should be sown in late Summer or Fall and wintered over
in the coldframe. When the plants are once established
they should not be disturbed, although new plants can
be started by root division.
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