Digitalis lanata ‘Cafe Creme’
Spires of pearly grey and coffee tinted flowers, each with purple net markings, make Digitalis lanata ‘Cafe Creme’ a very unusual and highly desirable Foxglove.
Unusual coffee-cream woolly spires
The coffee and cream spires reach 80cm, and they are packed with flowers.
And each flower pouts with a big dropped bottom lip like a churlish child.
A woolly & heat resistant foxglove
Digitalis lanata ‘Cafe Creme’ hails from Greece and other hot parts of eastern Europe, so it has in-built natural protection against blazing sun and drought. Hence the very attractive silver woolly cloak it wraps itself up in.
(Skip down to “Growing” section below for plant details, how / where to grow).
Extend the season of elegant Foxglove spires
I love having Foxgloves in the garden – because they look so elegant and impressive, and make such a grand statement, but with so little work. So it almost feels like cheating.
Digitalis lanata ‘Cafe Creme’ always flowers later than the more commonly known Digitalis purpurea varieties.
So it is wonderful for extending the season of elegant foxglove spires, without going to any extra work.
Dead easy, water-wise & tough as nails
Digitalis lanata is particularly heat and dry hardy.
So it is no shrinking violet that needs to hide in the cool.
As a native of Greece and hot parts of Eastern Europe, it is well accustomed to periods of heat and dry.
And it will grow happily in Sun or Shade, though dry woodlands is its preferred native habitat.
Unusual coffee cut flower
Digitalis make long-lasting cut blooms, perfect for tall and impressive arrangements.
The trick to getting the longest vase life from a foxglove cut flower is to get to it before the bees find it. When the flowers are pollinated they drop from the stems, so harvest early when just a few blossoms are open, and let it continue to open in the vase.
SEED SOWING ADVICE: QUICK & EASY
Seeds may be sown at any time indoors / or scattered directly in the garden in autumn or spring.
INDOORS: Sow Digitalis seeds on the surface of good quality seed raising mix at any time.
But do not cover with mix, as the seeds require light to germinate.
Now place the moistened, sown punnet in warm, well-lit place (not in direct sun).
You can use a temperature-controlled heat mat if you have one to encourage rapid germination, but it is not essential. A window-sill or well-lit corner is also fine.
Temperatures of 15-20°C approx. are best for rapid and optimum germination.
Adding a clear plastic cover helps to retain moisture in the punnet.
And continue to keep the punnet moist by spraying the surface of the mix a fine spray water bottle, or re-soaking in the water bath, as required.
Germination in 14 to 30 days approx.
OR SCATTER DIRECTLY IN THE GARDEN: Foxgloves thrive in full sun to partial shade to full shade, depending on the summer heat.
But in the hottest areas they prefer more midday and afternoon shade for optimum performance.
SEED COUNT: 150 seeds par pack approx.
(We always aim to exceed the stated seed count, and give a generous serve).
GROWING: Digitalis lanata ‘Cafe Creme’
– Height with flowers: Woolly summer spires to 80cm approx.
– Width: A low mound of woolly leaves makes a clump to approx 30cm. diameter.
– Position: Partial Shade, Woodlands, Dappled Light, and plus Full Sun for heat hardy Digitalis lanata. It really does not mind.
– Soil: Digitalis lanata really couldn’t care less, except about drainage.
They will grow blissfully easily in a wide range of soils, from light and sandy, through average loams, to heavy clay soils. They are also blissfully unfussed about soil pH. Being equally happy in acid, neutral and alkaline (lime) soils.
But they will rot and turn up their toes if their spot remains wet for too long, So ensure good drainage, even digging in some gravel if necessary.
Water-wise and heat hardy – no shrinking violet
– Water-wise: Digitalis lanata shrugs off heat and dry. As it is protected from heat and blazing sun by that woolly silver coat it wears. So it has good drought resistance, and tolerance of heat or dry.
Therefore normal, average garden watering is more than ample, and it is considered a water-wise plant recommended for water conscious gardeners.
– Frost: Extremely frost hardy, and able to tolerate hard frosts to well below -20C.
– Easy low care: You can deadhead central flower spikes after flowering, to encourage more flowers from side shoots, otherwise there is nothing to do.
Bees love it & rabbits hate it
– Beneficial for wildlife: Attracts and feeds nectar seeking small birds, butterflies and bees.
– Beware: All parts of any foxglove are toxic to humans and other mammals. Though grazing animals will not eat it. Fortunately it is bitter and does not taste like you would want another bite.
– Deer & Rabbit resistant: Toxic to these dreadful pests, and one can only hope, but deer and rabbits are far too smart to have a nibble.
Plant of the Elves
– Common names: All Foxgloves rejoice in a wealth of common names – from “Witches’ Gloves”, “Dead Men’s Bells”, “Fairy’s Glove”, “Gloves of Our Lady”, “Bloody Fingers”, “Virgin’s Gloves”, “Fairy Caps”, “Folk’s Glove”, “Fairy Thimbles”, to of course the most popular of all – “Fox’s Gloves”, shortened over the years to Foxglove.
The spots down the throats of Foxglove were said to be the marks from the elves, fairies and wee-folk’s fingers. Perhaps the legend told children that these plants were special, and to leave them alone.
Heart stopping history
– Long medicinal use: The humble Foxglove has been popular in western herbal medicine from perhaps the 1300’s. But it was often used for ailments as widely varying as scabby head to falls from a great height.
However none of the old medieval herbal treatments actually made use of its most remarkable property – the ability to moderate the heart muscle.
In 1785, Dr. W. Withering, published his ground breaking scientific treatise “Account of the Foxglove”. In here he gave details of over 200 patients with symptoms of congestive heart failure and heart arrhythmia, whom he had treated with success by the use of extracts from Foxglove plants.
Mind you – the dosage was critical – too much and the heart stopped !!!
Today our modern heart medication Digoxin is still based on chemical compounds originally found in Foxgloves, and the the dose is just right now. Digitalis lanata is the prime commercial source.