Digitalis obscura
Common Name: willow-leaved foxglove
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Plantaginaceae
Native Range: Spain
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Rusty-orange to greenish-yellow
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Hummingbirds
Tolerate: Deer

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in part shade. Prefers gritty, well-drained soils. Wet soils in winter can be fatal. Removal of flower spikes after bloom will encourage a secondary bloom. If flower spikes are left in place after flowering, plants may self-seed. However the spent flower spikes can rapidly become quite unsightly as the seed develops and many gardeners choose to remove most spikes and leave only a few for self-seeding.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Native to Spain, Digitalis obscura, commonly called willow-leaved foxglove, is a woody-based, shrubby perennial foxglove that typically grows to 1-2’ (less frequently to 3’) tall. It features large, tubular, funnel-shaped, pendulous, rusty dark orange to greenish-yellow flowers (to 1.5” long) with interior red veining and spotting. Flowers are borne in terminal racemes atop leafy flower stalks clad with narrow, linear, glabrous, gray-green, willow-like foliage. Individual flowers resemble the snipped-off fingers of a glove, hence the common name. Blooms late spring to early summer. Digitalis leaves are highly toxic.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Powdery mildew and leaf spot, if left untreated, can depreciate foliage considerably by early to mid-summer. Dense woody crowns may rot in soggy, poorly-drained winter soils. Potential insect pests include aphids, mealy bugs, slugs and Japanese beetle.

Garden Uses

Flower spires provide architectural height to the border and cottage garden and are particularly effective in front of dark backgrounds such as provided by shrubs or buildings. Also appropriate for open woodland gardens and naturalized areas.