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Annual Biennial

Digitalis purpurea
  • RHS Plants for pollinators

common foxglove

D. purpurea is a biennial or short-lived perennial, freely self-sowing, with a rosette of softly hairy, oval leaves and tall, one-sided spires of pendant, tubular, bright rosy-purple flowers 6cm long, spotted within, in summer

Other common names
bloody bells
bloody finger
see morecow flop
dead man's bells
dead men's bells
dog's lugs
dragon's mouth
fairy bells
fairy fingers
fairy gloves
fairy thimbles
fairy's cap
fairy's petticoat
fairy's thimble
finger flower
flap dock
folk's gloves
fox finger
gloves of Mary
lady's fingers
lady's gloves
lady's thimble
lion's mouth
lusmore
lustmore
pop dock
thimble finger
thimble flower
throat root
witches' bells
witches' fingers
witches' gloves
witches' thimbles

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Size
Ultimate height
1.5–2.5 metres
Time to ultimate height
1–2 years
Ultimate spread
0.1–0.5 metres
Growing conditions
Chalk
Clay
Loam
Sand
Moisture
Moist but well–drained, Well–drained
pH
Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Colour & scent
StemFlowerFoliageFruit
Spring Green
Summer Purple Green
Autumn Green
Winter
Position
  • Full sun
  • Partial shade
Aspect

South–facing or East–facing or West–facing

Exposure
Exposed or Sheltered
Hardiness
H7
Botanical details
Family
Plantaginaceae
Native to the UK
Yes
Foliage
Deciduous
Habit
Bushy
Potentially harmful
Highly toxic by ingestion. Wear gloves and wash hands after handling
Genus

Digitalis can be biennials or usually short-lived perennials forming a rosette of simple leaves with bell-shaped flowers in slender, erect, usually one-sided racemes

Name status

Correct

Plant range
W Europe

How to grow

Cultivation

Grow in almost any soil,but avoid very wet or very dry situations. Prefers a humus-rich soil in partial shade but will grow in full sun. Deadhead after flowering to avoid problems with excess numbers of seedlings.

Propagation

Propagate by seed sown in-situ in late spring. Alternatively sow in seed trays in late spring and plant out to final position in late summer

Suggested planting locations and garden types
  • Coastal
  • Wildflower meadow
  • City and courtyard gardens
  • Cottage and informal garden
  • Underplanting of roses and shrubs
  • Flower borders and beds
Pruning

Cut back after flowering

Pests

Can get aphids and leaf and bud eelworm

Diseases

May be affected by leaf spots and powdery mildews

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