Days to Germination:14-21 days
Digitalis purpurea. These classic cottage flowers thrive in partial shade. It is best to start them indoors 10 to 12 weeks before setting out. Sow seed thinly and shallowly, as light aids germination. Keep moist and provide warmth and strong light. Transplant to larger, deeper pots so their root systems can develop fully once the seedlings are about 2" tall. When the plants reach 5" to 6" tall, “harden them off” by gradually exposing the plants to the outdoors for 7 to 10 days. Transplant them outside up to 2 weeks before last frost date. Plant in rich, well-draining soil. Keep watered and mulched; do not let them dry out. If you want to cut them for bouquets, wait until the bottom third of the flowers on the spike have opened. Cutting them back and deadheading them will encourage side shoots and second blooms to develop. Height: 4' to 5'.
Our Pollinators are in Peril
Deciding how to treat annuals and perennials is simple. Annuals dazzle you in summer, then take their leave. Perennials persist as long as they are welcome. But biennials are a two year proposition in which they are sown one year and bloom the next. If you have never tried biennials you might ask, “Are they worth it? I wait a year for this thing to flower, then it’s gone.” Well, not exactly. Biennials tend to be self-sowers which, once established, create their own little program. You have to get with their rhythm and learn to like their individualistic ways. One way is to give them a designated spot. Plant Hollyhocks in the rear of a bed, since they’re tall, and next year they’ll make colorful, towering spires, dropping their seeds and creating a Hollyhock neighborhood back there. A Foxglove neighborhood might be a spot with dappled shade, in and around a shrub border. Forget-Me-Nots will congregate in a damp spot. Lupines, once introduced, might reappear anywhere; if it’s the wrong place just yank the ones that don’t fit and enjoy the rest.