Digitalis purpurea 'Excelsior group'


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Key information

Plant type

Hardy perennial

Flower colour






Skill level


photo by Mark Bolton, copyright GAP Photos (51827)

Plant details

This native European woodland plant appears in many guises, some dwarf and others very tall, with flowers in shades of pink and red. The Excelsior group is a particularly fine strain, producing flower spikes with large trumpets in clear colours. These blooms are attractive to bees. It's a popular biennial for shaded places that self-seeds readily. Seedlings can be transplanted if they're in the way. It's handsome and easy if watered well in dry weather, and looks spectacular at the back of a border. If your soil is dry and free-draining, incorporate plenty of organic matter into the soil before planting and surround with a thick mulch in spring.

Family: Scrophulariaceae

Genus: Digitalis

Species: purpurea

Cultivar: Excelsior group

Plant type: Hardy perennial

Flower colour: Pink

Foliage colour: Mid-green

Feature: Flowers

Sun exposure: Full sun, Partial shade, Shade

Soil: Well-drained/light, Clay/heavy, Acidic, Moist

Hardiness: Hardy

Skill level: Beginner

Height: 150cm

Spread: 45cm

Time to plant seeds: February to April

Reader reviews


The family name for this plant is shown above as 'Scrophulariaceae'. The RHS state that Digitalis comes from the 'Plantaginaceae' family. My slightly wider research using the Kew Plant List indicates RHS is correct. You might want to amend this page?

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