What’s in Bloom: False Foxglove

What makes a plant a native exactly? Sometimes when I research a particular plant I will find in its description a range map where a whole state is coloured in. In a state like Texas such a map can only mislead. A plant that likes the filtered light and acidic soil of the Piney woods isn’t likely to thrive in the clay dust of the Panhandle. I am learning that native isn’t exactly the same thing as indigenous.

false foxglove
Agalinis. Agalinis edwardsiana (possibly)

Even within the boundaries of Austin I can see evidence of radically different wild spaces in close proximity. Willowbrook Reach, a wildlife habitat and riparian restoration project, is all about gentle blues. But only a few city blocks away at the prairie garden in the Mueller Greenbelt you’d be hard pressed to find a single blue dayflower. The hills at Mueller are pink — taken over by false foxglove. Yet, both areas have the same soil type. Both areas have water sources. In this case the limiting factor seems mostly about the quality of light.

false foxglove and bee bum
false foxglove and bee bum

The stems are long, thin and could look weedy but when propped up by grasses and other plants false foxglove looks light and airy. Taking photos was tricky because they kept swaying in even a gentle breeze. A bit inconvenient but that kind of movement in the garden reminds me flowers are alive and not some kind of plastic furniture.

False foxglove is an annual that reseeds successfully. It seems to prefer open sunny places though I did see large stands in part-shade. Mealy blue sage blooms in large clumps nearby. I’d like to try putting the two together in my garden.

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4 thoughts on “What’s in Bloom: False Foxglove

  1. Beautiful photos, Debra. Of course, the one with the little bee butt warms my heart! Funnily enough, I just saw some of these in a Northwest Hills neighborhood yesterday. According to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower site, it is indigenous to the Edward’s Plateau. A lovely little thing.

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    1. Thanks, Tina! They are really pretty and though they self sow getting them established looks like it is going to take a trick and a half.

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  2. It is astounding how wildly different the plants are that will happily populate the different microclimates here. I was just talking with a new neighbor who said she was noting the plants that did well in surrounding yards while making a plant list to try in her own spaces. I reminded her to pay some attention not just to what was doing well around her, but where it was doing well. The amount of sun and soil depth vary significantly even yard to yard and boy does that make different native plants happy!

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