Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Moment: Digitalis Ferruginea

By Patientgardener @patientgardener


The plant of the moment is definitely the Digitalis ferruginea also known as the Rusty Foxglove.  I grew these from seed probably two years ago and this is their first year of flowering and the wait has certainly been worth it.

Why Rusty Foxglove? Well I think the colours give  that away and the stem of the species name ferrum means iron so you can see how the common name came about.


Digitalis ferruginea is from the northern mediterranean and is doing very well in a shady border in my garden which gets somewhat dry at this time of year although it is quite damp in the winter which I suppose replicates the climate in the northern med.  As you can see the bees like it too and just before I took these photographs there were at least five bees on most of the flower spikes. My son and I had an interesting conversation about the plant’s origin and whether it was native which would explain its attraction to bees.  However as my research has shown they aren’t natives of this country and as I have found time and again with other non-natives they are still very popular with the bees so it makes me question the argument that you need native plants to attract and support pollinators.

The leaves are  long and thin rather than the more rounded felty leaves of Digitalis  purpurea.  Being thinner they aren’t so dominant in the border and provide a nice contrast to Geraniums and Hostas.  The Digitalis ferruginea is also good to grow with ferns and I think I need to add more ferns around mine – I have some Autumn Ferns which would work really well with the colouring.


But what I especially love aside from the fabulous peachy color is the intricate reddish brown veining on the petals and the wonderful hairs.  For me this Digitalis is by far more elegant and beautiful than the standard Digitalis purpurea which is, I think you will agree a gorgeous plant itself, so you can see how gorgeous I think the Rusty Foxglove is.

Apparently although many treat it as a biennial it is actually a short-lived perennial which will self-seed.  Therefore I am definitely going to be collecting seed so that I have some more in a couple of years and hopefully the current plants will last for a year more.

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