Digitalis ferruginea ‘Gigantea’

Family: Plantaginaceae

Countries: Albania, Asia, Bulgaria, Europe, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lebanon, Romania, Syria, Turkey, Yugoslavia

Digitalis ferruginea ‘Gigantea’ is an absolutely stunning foxglove!  Plants produce tall spires of fantastically beautiful, tan coloured flowers; each individual bloom is enhanced by a gorgeous rusty coloured veining.  The whole effect of a Digitalis ferruginea ‘Gigantea’ plant in bloom is truly breathtaking.  I remember the first time I saw these foxgloves in flower during a garden visit, I instantly knew that I simply had to grow these plants in my own garden and promptly ordered some seeds!

One of the striking features about these plants is Digitalis ferruginea ‘Gigantea’ flower stems are narrower than many foxglove species; somehow this detail adds to their beauty.  Digitalis ferruginea flower stems are narrower still, as ‘Gigantea’ is the larger flowered form of the wild species – Digitalis ferruginea.  It’s the flower’s slender form that really helps this plant stand out, as Digitalis ferruginea ‘Gigantea’ looks so unique next to other garden flowers.  I expect that most folks would not list brown as one of their favourite flower colours, yet I would defy anyone to witness a Digitalis ferruginea ‘Gigantea’ plant in bloom and not fall instantly with these fascinating flowers!

These foxgloves usually grow as short-lived perennials but on rare occasions they can be biennial, when they fade away after flowering and setting seed.  Digitalis ferruginea ‘Gigantea’  plants positively flourish in partial shade, but I find that these foxgloves are really very accommodating; they’ll grow in full sunshine and deep shade, too.  Plants thrive in any soil, except for entirely waterlogged soils and exceptionally dry soils.

In the UK, Digitalis ferruginea ‘Gigantea’ flower from June to August.  Digitalis ferruginea ‘Gigantea’ flower spikes grow up to around 1.7m (5.5ft) tall but these plants require very little space to grow and are ideal for small gardens as well as large spaces.  Planting always comes down to personal preference but I find that Digitalis ferruginea ‘Gigantea’ combines well with both taller and shorter plants.  The warm, sunny-brown colouring of Digitalis ferruginea ‘Gigantea’ flowers add an unusual and intriguing beauty to the garden.

Plants are available from nurseries and garden centres, but it’s much more economical to grow Digitalis ferruginea ‘Gigantea’ plants from seed.  I’ve found it best to sow Digitalis ferruginea ‘Gigantea’ seeds from the start of May until the first or second week of July; as I’ve found that my later sowings have not been as successful.  Seeds can be sown directly in the soil where you want your plants to grow, but you’ll raise many more plants if you sow Digitalis ferruginea ‘Gigantea’ seeds in containers of peat-free compost.  These seeds must have light to germinate; accordingly, Digitalis ferruginea ‘Gigantea’ seeds need to be sown on the surface of the compost – don’t be tempted to cover these seeds with soil or compost, or they simply won’t grow.  Gently press the seed onto the surface of moist soil or compost and ensure that the compost doesn’t completely dry out.

Don’t forget to water your seedlings and plants regularly during periods of drought.  Plant your Digitalis ferruginea ‘Gigantea’’ seedlings into their final positions during August and September.

Digitalis ferruginea ‘Gigantea’ is poisonous.

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