Saturday, September 10, 2011

South African Foxglove

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Ceratotheca triloba (South African foxglove) is an annual that glories in the heat of summer, and once started to bloom, continues on most of the fall. It is a different genus from the more commonly known  foxglove (Digitalis), which is a biennial that sometimes lives and blooms into the third or fourth year. It is reported to be poisonous though, like Digitalis, but all I know is the deer do not eat it. Maybe they just do not care for the velvety leaves. I have been growing them two or three years. The first year I saved seed and started them in the spring. I found out that they had reseeded in the flower bed, so I had just as well have saved my time and effort. Since then, I just let them go and come up wherever. If I want one somewhere where it is not, I move it and hoe out the unwanted ones. Mine grow at least 3 feet tall (not this year-I guess it was too dry), and branch freely. They can become so top heavy that they topple, so it's best to cage them when they are small or let them grow so thickly that they give each other support in the rain and wind.
I have forgotten where I got the seed. I am pretty sure I did not buy a plant. (I am against buying single annuals unless they are in cell packs. They are usually too expensive in single pots, and may have their lives shortened by being pot bound.) I may have collected the seed from some garden somewhere, or I may have gotten them from the American Horticultural Society seed exchange.
The AHS seed exchange is a great thing for people who really love growing plants from the beginning. I often get things I had never thought of trying and through the years have gotten some wonderful surprises. I have a Plumeria, grown from AHS seed,that has to be cut back off the greenhouse roof plastic every year. It is rooted in the ground through the bottom of the pot and will stay there as long as the greenhouse functions.
I am already collecting my seed for the seed exchange that comes early in the new year.  The seed exchange together with the great magazine American Gardener, it is well worth the price.

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