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1: IT'S A TREE!, 2:Plant Illiteracy, 3: Foxy Foxglove

Posted by merricat Zone 3a Canada (My Page) on
Fri, Apr 7, 06 at 19:23


I thought I'd make this a 3-part message, instead of flooding the board with my posts. I'll try to keep 'em short [short by my USUAL it'll be a novelette instead of "War and Peace" ;-) ]

IT'S A TREE! YESSSSS! After trying for over 2 years to get my Chinese Rain Tree seeds to germinate, I finally followed the seller's advice (got 'em from Diane's Seeds, you've seen me rave about the site before), and now I have a gorgeous little tree in a bonsai pot. As soon as I can afford it, I'm buying more. It's such a pretty thing, like a miniature oak tree on my library shelf (not hardy in my zone, though far from tropical). So I'm doing the BONSAI HAPPY DANCE! *tah dah!*

Plant illiteracy is on the rise, and we MUST do something to stop it. There is no shortage of books on how to raise everything from asparagus to zucchini, and plants simply REFUSE to read them! Boston ferns thrive in sunlight, lily-of-the-valley refuse to grow in shade, and my 2 "shade-loving" rabbit-tracks were limp, dying mush until I put them in a south-facing window where they're baked dry practically every day.

Honestly, we can ALL have 100% success in all our gardening efforts IF WE CAN JUST GET THE DARN PLANTS TO READ THE INSTRUCTIONS! *grumble*

(Sponsored by the BGA - Bewildered Gardeners Association)


Finally, Foxy Foxglove. This is one I need help with.

I bought a few seeds from Veseys of Foxy, and it's sprouted nicely. Of course digitalis is a biennial, but Foxy blooms its FIRST year (I'll post a link at the bottom....and you see what I mean about the plants refusing to Read The Manual?). So the question is: does Foxy go to seed after that, so you can collect them and have "annual foxglove" every year? Or.....?

The germination was close to 100%, they're much hardier than any of my other digitalis (endured a couple of dry-outs with no loss), and they look beautiful (in the pics, of course). I wouldn't mind sticking with this variety: it's often tough to overwinter biennials in a 3a zone. And MAN would I like to be able to offer this plant here. Great for people in zones 1-3.

But as to seeds, I is stumped. And (not surprisingly) no one at Veseys will give me a straight answer.

Hello, Digitalis experts....and HELP!

- Merri

Here is a link that might be useful: Foxy Foxglove

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: 1: IT'S A TREE!, 2:Plant Illiteracy, 3: Foxy Foxglove

Hi Merri,

1. Congratulations on your Chinese Rain Tree. I agree, it's very exciting to grow your own shrub/tree from seed - it definitely takes patience. I've successfully grown from seed 2 Cornus Kousa chinensis shrubs/trees(?). They are about 5 or 6 years old & about 1.5 - 2m tall now. Also, I'm growing an oakleaf hydrangea that I started from seed (I actually got the seed in a trade on GardenWeb many years ago) It's about 5 or 6 yrs old, too, and only .5m tall, so far.

I'm growing a coffee tree from seed, too, as a houseplant. Started that quite a few years ago, and it's very slow.

2. Yes, Plants *do* have a mind of their own.

3. Not positive on the foxgloves, but I would think that if it produces flowers; it will produce seeds from those flowers - whether they are in the first or second year. (See # 2)


RE: 1: IT'S A TREE!, 2:Plant Illiteracy, 3: Foxy Foxglove

Hiya Merri

Wow congrats on the tree, sounds cool. My Marantas (I think that's what rabbit tracks are) do great in sunny windows. I have found them prone to root rot if not kept warm and a bit on the dry side.

The foxgloves - I think I can help you. They are biennials or short-lived perennials and yes the Foxy ones do bloom the first year. I had trouble for years trying to grow Digitalis X Mertonensis, I got beautiful biennial foliage but no flowers at all. So I tried Foxys and they bloomed wonderfully. I just adore foxgloves and I was so happy that I finally found one that worked. The idea is that you have a patch of them and you plant some new every year, that way there will always be some even as the older ones die off. If they are self-seeding for you this is acheived on its own, but you might want to start some indoors every year or wintersow them. They can self-seed but mine flowered rather late and did not have chance to set seed. So I wouldn't count on it. Hope they work out for you.

RE: 1: IT'S A TREE!, 2:Plant Illiteracy, 3: Foxy Foxglove

  • Posted by janetr Ottawa USDA 4a (My Page) on
    Sun, Apr 9, 06 at 20:16

I want to join the BGA to stamp out plant illiteracy.

A screaming example. My florist's cyclamen refused to go dormant and bloomed virtually all year. Sure, the leaves got a little floppy over winter, but still... The books all insisted that they go dormant, so I figured a rest would do her good. Not. The bulb rotted away. Fortunately she'd actually set seed shortly before and I had saved them and planted them. Terrific germination, really easy, and I've got several babies in pots. Then I read that germinating cyclamen seeds is tricky. Definitely, that plant couldn't read and neither can its offspring.

Then there's the amaryllis. I separated two offshoots before waking them all up and potted them separately. The mother bulb, which usually produces a flower stalk and leaves simultaneously and then another flower stalk (although last year she did both stalks at the same time) this year followed the agenda, although no sign of the second stalk yet.

Daughter number one is apparently literate, because she is doing what the books say, and is blooming her little heart out with no leaves in sight.

Daughter number two produced leaves and then two or three weeks later said, "Why not?" and has started on her own flowers, well behind the others.

Mother and daughter number one a few days ago. They're in their full glory now.

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RE: 1: IT'S A TREE!, 2:Plant Illiteracy, 3: Foxy Foxglove

I always try to grow things "by the book" the first time around. But yeah, I've learned that many plants have a different plan they want to follow.

My Boston ferns grow better with the afternoon sun on them then when I try to grow them in the shade. When I put my lily of the valley in shade they get full of spider mites. They do just fine in the sun. I've killed several florists cyclamens by trying to force them into dormancy!!

Janetr - the vast majority of hybrid Hippeastryms (amaryllis) will flower before they grow leaves. They may put some leaf growth out at the same time, as your bigger one has, but the real leaf growth is after the flower stalk has died back. A huge amount of what you read about these bulbs is plain wrong! Very nice, by the way! They're one of my favourites - I have a couple of dozen :-)


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