Digitalis ferruginea 'Gigantea' is an interesting and exotic looking foxglove and a native of the northern Mediterranean. Elegant, leafy spires arise from a rosette of dark green leaves, followed by closely packed, golden blooms, which are 3.5cm (1.5in) long.
The species name ferruginous, is taken from the Latin ferrum meaning Iron, hence the common name of 'Rusty Foxglove'. Each orchid like flower has an interior of rich red to dark brown veins, with fine soft hairs on the tips.
Growing 160 to 180cm (5 to 6ft) tall, this unusual variation will add height to a shady corner of the garden and looks lovely dotted among ferns or other woodland plants and spectacular at the back of a border.
Completely hardy and totally perennial, given the right conditions it will also perpetuate by self-seeding. The blooms are extremely attractive to bees.
- Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit
Digitalis ferruginea has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit (AGM). The RHS Floral A Committee commented that it had a “solid flower spike that was neat, not gaudy”.
Sowing: Sow seeds in late spring to early summer.
Sow seeds from the end of March to early June on the surface of a peaty soil. Do not cover as the seed needs light to germinate. Ensure that the soil is kept moist
They will usually germinate in 2 to 4 weeks at around 20°C (68°F).
Prick out each seedling as it becomes large enough to handle, transplant into 7.5cm (3in) pots or trays. Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out after all risk of frost. Plant in moist but well drained, fertile soil.
Deadhead to prolong flowering season through August. After flowering cut back the flowered spikes to encourage more side shoots. Cut down to the ground after flowering, leaving a few plants to die down and self seed. The seedlings that spring up are easily transplanted to the location you want them to bloom.
Apply a generous 5 to 7cm (2 to 3in) mulch of well-rotted organic matter around the plant in early spring.
Shade/Woodland Garden. Cottage/Informal Garden, Flower Arranging, Flowers Borders and Beds, Wildflower Gardens or Wildlife Gardens
If foxgloves are grown near most plants they will stimulate growth and help to resist disease and if grown near apples, potatoes and tomatoes their storage qualities will he greatly improved.
Foxgloves are excellent as a cut flower and in an arrangement will make all the other flowers last longer - if you do not want the actual flowers in the vase make some foxglove tea from the stems or blossoms and add to the water.
The whole foxglove plant is extremely poisonous; Digitalis slows the heart but provides a source of medicine used by doctors. All parts of the plant may cause severe discomfort if ingested and contact with the foliage may irritate skin. Please wear gloves when handling both plants and seeds. Plant out of the reach of children and animals.
Folklore & Legend:
Foxglove - the name is said to derive from both the shape of the flowers resembling the fingers of a glove - 'folk’s glove' meaning belonging to the fairy folk.
The flower meaning is “insincerity” as folklore tells that bad fairies gave the flowers to the fox to put on his feet to soften his steps whilst hunting. It was believed to keep evil at bay if grown in the garden, but it was considered unlucky to bring the blooms inside.
The genus name is a latinization of the German name 'fingernut' from the Latin digitus meaning 'a finger'. The species name is taken from the word ferruginous, meaning “of the colour of iron rust: brown-yellowish red.” which is taken from the latin ferrum meaning Iron. If you remember your chemistry lessons the symbol for Iron is Fe
- Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit
- Additional Information
Packet Size 100mg Average Seed Count 200 Seeds Family Scrophulariaceae Genus Digitalis Species ferruginea Cultivar Gigantea Synonym Digitalis aurea Common Name Perennial Foxglove, Rusty Foxglove Hardiness Hardy Biennial Flowers Golden-brown with red interior. Late spring to mid summer Foliage Semi evergreen lance shaped, Rosette Height 160 to 180cm (5 to 6ft) Spread 45cm (18in) Position Prefers partial shade Soil Moist but well drained, fertile soil. Notes Robust biennial or short-lived perennial