Digitalis × mertonensis

Tried and Trouble-free Recommended by 2 Professionals
Common Name: strawberry foxglove
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Plantaginaceae
Native Range: Garden origin
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Coppery rose
Sun: Full sun to 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 full sun to part shade. Prefers moist, organically rich, acidic soils in part shade. Soil must not be allowed to dry out. A short-lived perennial which self-seeds under favorable growing conditions, and may be best treated as a biennial. If grown as a perennial, plants should be divided every 2 years to maintain vigor.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Digitalis × mertonensis is a tetraploid, hybrid, short-lived (often lives only 2-3 years) perennial which is a cross between D. purpurea (biennial) and D. grandiflora (perennial). Flowers are larger than those of either parent and are borne in terminal racemes atop leafy, 3-4' tall spires arising from the centers of basal rosettes. Pendulous, 2-3" long, tubular, funnel-shaped, coppery-rose flowers are closely grouped along each spike. Flowers are attractive to hummingbirds. Large (6-8" long), medium green, velvety leaves usually remain attractive throughout the growing season. Leaves also are a source of the drug digitalis and are highly poisonous. Blooms in early summer. Individual flowers resemble the snipped off fingers of a glove, hence the common name of foxglove.

Genus name comes from the Latin digitus meaning finger for the flower shape.

Problems

Powdery mildew and leaf spot, if left untreated, can damage foliage considerably by late summer. Dense crowns may rot in soggy, poorly-drained winter soils. Potential insect pests include aphids, mealy bugs, slugs and Japanese beetle.

Garden Uses

Tall spires provide striking color and good architectural height to the border and are particularly effective in front of dark backgrounds such as those provided by a wall or shrubs. Also effective in woodland gardens or naturalized areas.