Do you have a plant you can’t identify? Is there something going wrong with a plant and you don’t know why? Send the Grump a photo! He in his awesome and wine-soaked wisdom will search his vast memory banks to provide an answer. If he can’t, you’ve stumped the Grump!
Our first challenge comes from Claire, who writes, “I need help from the Grump [like who doesn’t?]. I bought several packets of heirloom seeds from Lowe’s last year and planted them. Last year, no blooms. The leaves survived the winter and now the plants are blooming. I have no idea what the blooms are. Any ideas?”
Thank you, Claire, for presenting the Grump with such a feeble challenge on this first installment of “Stump the Grump.” The flowers are foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea), one of spring’s most spectacular and exotic-looking bloomers. Spikes of spotted, bell-shaped blossoms in colors of purple, rose, white, and pastels may stand 5 feet tall. Hummingbirds like them, but deer don’t.
Foxgloves are short-lived perennials, which the Grump treats as biennials. That means they grow leaves the first year, bloom and set seed the second year, and then die. Foxgloves occasionally live longer, but from my experience, after the bloom spider mites eat them up and you have to pull them up anyway. So if you want more foxgloves next spring, you have to plan new plants this year. You can either start plants from seed this spring or set out transplants in the fall.