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The plant genus Fingerhut (Digitalis) belongs to the family of plantain plants (Plantaginaceae). There are around 25 species that are common in Europe, North Africa and West Asia. Domestic and widespread is the red foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), also called cinquefoil or fuch-weed. It grows on forest roads and in clearings. From him there are also some garden varieties with white, apricot-colored or pink flowers. At higher altitudes there is also the large-flowered foxglove (Digitalis grandiflora). The also native yellow thimble (Digitalis lutea) is daintier and is about 60 centimeters high.

Appearance and growth

Foxglove grows biennial or as a short-lived perennial. In the first year, the plant forms a native, winter-green leaf rosette with up to 20 centimeters long, stemmed lanceolate leaves. They have clearly visible, reticular veins and are slightly hairy in some species. From the leaf rosette develops in the coming year, up to two meters high unbranched inflorescence. This carries numerous purple, bell-shaped single flowers with internally striking spotted lower lip. They open in June and bloom into August. From the pollinated flowers develop 12 millimeters large capsule fruits, whose numerous fine seeds are spread in late summer.
The thimble is also a poison and medicinal plant. Its ingredients, the digitalis glycosides, are used in low dose for the treatment of heart disease. Since all plant parts are highly toxic, it is better not to plant the thimble in gardens where children often play. Also for outdoor facilities of kindergartens and for the planting of playgrounds, he is of course not suitable.

Location and ground

Most foxglove species prefer humus rich, moderately moist soils that should be nutrient rich and low in lime. They like the partial shade, grow with sufficient soil moisture but also in the sun.

Planting and care

Since thimbles are offered in pots like most perennials, you can put the plants in the bed all year round. The best way to grow thimble in small groups is to show it off best. If necessary, the soil should be improved with humus, and the plants like a mulch layer of half-rotted leaves. When well-grown, thimble at the right location will usually be fertilizer-free and extra hydrated. Excess seedlings can be removed from the bed with a weed cutter.


The seeds should be pruned in time, if you want to prevent too abundant Aussamen. This usually extends the life of the plant. For the vase cut, however, the impressive flower stalks are less suitable because they wither in the room very quickly.


Foxglove, like many biennial or short-lived perennials, is a typical hiker in the garden. As it naturally eats itself, it appears every year in new places without becoming too annoying. He gives the perennial flowerbed a natural look. You can combine the thimble very well with leaf ornamental plants such as Rodgersien, Funkien or purple bells (Heuchera). It also goes well with flowering perennials with similar habitat requirements such as forest bellflowers (Campanula latifolia var. Macrantha) and astilbe. Since it forms a deep tap root, the thimble can also stand under trees with intolerant roots such as birch and pointed maple. In sunny perennial beds, he feels less well because he does not tolerate direct midday sun. As an initial planting it is best placed in groups of three to eight copies.


  • Rusty thimble (Digitalis ferruginea): very slender, dense flower clusters with orange-red flowers, up to 120 centimeters high, relatively drought-tolerant and therefore also suitable for sunnier locations
  • Spanish Foxglove (Digitalis obscura): about 70 centimeters high, yellow-orange flowers from July to August. Unfortunately, only at protected, not too humid locations in the wine-growing climate reliably hardy

Digitalis thimble

Spanish Foxglove 'Dusky Maid' (Digitalis obscura) is a breed that has a lot of fans in England

  • Large-flowered Foxglove (Digitalis grandiflora): large yellow, wide-open bellflowers from June to August with a brownish interior drawing, up to 100 cm high, native wild plant
  • Red Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea): purple pink flower bells from June to July, up to 130 cm high, native wild plant
  • Garden Foxglove (Digitalis x mertonensis): Hybrids of red and large-flowered foxglove, up to 70 cm high, large, orange-pink flowers


The thimble sows itself at the appropriate location and thus provides for offspring by itself.If you want to sow the plant, the appropriate time of late summer is just after seed maturity. Simply sprinkle a few seeds in the bed and cover with a thin layer of humus. Alternatively, you can sow them in small plant pots with potting soil. Sowing in seed trays is not recommended because the young thimbles are badly piked due to their tap root. The division of short-lived perennials is difficult.

Diseases and pests

Thimbles are robust and are hardly infested by pests, even snail eating is rare.

Video Board: How to use a Needle & Thimble.

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