Digitalis purpurea ‘Camelot White’
Synonyms of Digitalis purpurea (16) (Updated on 1-20-21): Digitalis alba Schrank, Digitalis fucata Ehrh., Digitalis gloxinioides Carrière, Digitalis gyspergerae Rouy, Digitalis intermedia Lapeyr., Digitalis libertiana Dumort., Digitalis longiflora Lej., Digitalis mauretanica (Humbert & Maire) Ivanina, Digitalis media Elmig., Digitalis miniana Samp., Digitalis nevadensis Kunze, Digitalis purpurascens Lej., Digitalis purpurea subsp. bocquetii Valdés, Digitalis purpurea subsp. mauretanica (Humbert & Maire) Romo, Digitalis speciosa Salisb., Digitalis tomentosa Hoffmanns. & Link
Digitalis purpurea L. is the correct and accepted name for this species of Digitalis. It was named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the second volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.
The genus, Digitalis Tourn. ex L., was described by Mr. Linnaeus in the second volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753. He gave credit to Joseph Pitton de Tournefort for naming the genus and used his description.
Plants of the World Online by Kew lists 27 species in the Digitalis genus (as of 1-20-21 when I am updating this page). It is a member of the plant family Plantaginaceae with 106 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made.
Digitalis was formerly in the Scrophulariaceae family but phylogenic research places it in the Plantaginaceae family.
I bought this plant from Wagler’s Greenhouse in the spring of 2015. I had always wanted to try Digitalis but plants at Lowe’s and online aren’t cheap. There you can buy seeds but what if they don’t come up? I don’t have an adequate location to start seeds here on the farm YET.
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Type: Biennial, short-lived perennial.
Zones: 4a-8b (-30 to 15° F)
Size: 24-60” tall
Light: Light to part shade
Soil: Average, well-drained soil.
Water: Medium. Soil should not dry out.
Flowers: Late spring-early summer the second year from seed
Propagation: From seed/division
Uses: Attracts hummingbirds.
Concerns: All parts of this plant are toxic.
Digitalis may be tricky to grow and there are a few rules you must follow. First, you need to choose the right spot. Information online says they will grow in full sun to part shade, so that being said, you should probably do somewhere in the middle at first. Information also states their soil shouldn’t dry out. With that in mind, you have to consider how fast their soil will dry out where you plant them. If you plant them in full sun, of course, their soil will dry out faster and need to be watered more often.
If you notice they are winter hardy in USDA zones 4-8. That appears a bit strange because one would think if they are hardy in zone 4, why wouldn’t they survive in zone 9-11? That, my friend, has more to do with the summer heat than winter temperatures. Some plants just cannot take the heat, and this is one of them and what ultimately did mine in. SO, with that in mind, they may be more suitable for gardeners in cooler climates with not so hot and humid summer temperatures.
You have a couple of options when deciding to start growing Digitalis. You can purchase plants from a garden center, online, or buy seeds. Your selection at a garden center may be limited and there is such a good selection online. At a garden center, you are more likely to find plants that will flower or are already flowering. Plants online are more likely to be first-year plants that will need to survive over winter and flower the second year. It just depends on when they planted their seed. Starting from seed is good if they come up. If they do, they can acclimate to their conditions much better. Of course, they won’t flower until their second season and you will have to wait until the third spring to see if they have self-sown…
If you sow seed, it may be best to do so in late summer or autumn. Do not cover the seed as they need light to germinate and a temperature between 70-80 degrees F,
Deadheading may encourage repeat blooming and will keep the plants looking better. If you leave the flowers, or at least some of them, they may self-sow and form a nice colony. A nice blooming colony of Digitalis is indeed a sight to behold!
Someday I will try Digitalis again and probably need a few to try in different locations. There are many really nice cultivars available, especially online. Pam’s Choice and Pam’s Split have long been on my wishlist for a very long time…
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