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You won’t believe the big seed-saving mistake I made


A few years ago I grew ‘Dalmation Peach’ Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) for the first time. It’s a gorgeous foxglove, carrying peach to pink flowers atop 2-1/2 foot tall stems. But its best feature is that it will bloom the first year, unlike most foxgloves, which are true biennials and don’t bloom until the second year. 

'Dalmation Peach' foxglove

But finding seed for sale was a challenge so I was particularly happy to collect a lot of seed from it. I grew some of those seeds last year but I had a lot of issues with some transplants last year and none of them did much.

foxglove seed mistake

Over the weekend I was telling my mom that I had started some ‘Dalmation Peach’ seeds a couple weeks ago, some newly purchased and some of the seed I’d saved.

“But those won’t come true, right?” she said. 

I’m not sure what’s worse here: The fact that I’ve been wasting my time growing seed that won’t give me the plants I want or the fact that my mom was right. Again.

You can’t grow ‘Dalmation Peach’ from collected seed because it’s an F1 hybrid, a fact that literally never occurred to me until my mom said that. 

There is no photographic evidence of this, but feel free to envision me slapping my forehead. Because, duh. I never even thought to check.

Foxglove flower

F1 hybrids are the first generation offspring of a plant pairing, usually created by humans, but nature can do it too. (Don’t get confused by what hybrids are, it’s simply taking the pollen from the flower one plant and applying it to a flower on another plant. This is not test-tube mumbo jumbo and it’s got nothing to do with GMOs.) What it means for gardeners, though, is that seed saved from F1 hybrids won’t come true.

Which means the seeds I’m growing in the basement—the ones I saved from previous years’ plants—are going to produce foxgloves, but they won’t produce ‘Dalmation Peach’. I might be able to identify the soil blocks planted with purchased ‘Dalmation Peach’ seed. That seed was pelleted and I sowed them just one seed per block. The collected seed is so small that, even sowing thinly, there’s probably 10 seeds per soil block. 

It also means that I’m buying more ‘Dalmation Peach’ foxglove seed. Because a firm slap on the head is enough punishment for my lapse in thinking. I don’t need to be punished by not having my favorite foxglove too.

a foxglove seed-saving mistake

18 Responses

  1. I wonder the same thing “Helen: asked- So what kind of Foxglove did your collected seed look like once it matured?
    Also good info! Thanks for this post on your experiences!

  2. Go for D. Primrose Carousel. Much more beautiful than dalmatian series in my opinion. And they come true from seed. And if you set seed as soon as they are available from current plants, new little ones will flower in June of the next year. No contest.

  3. Erin, I just want to say that you inspire me! Thanks! I’ve been watching a ton of your videos, and now I will also try to grow Dalmatian Peach Foxglove. I just ordered some from Johnny Seeds. Do you think I can winter sow this variety? Thanks always for your advice. You can obviously tell your advice is so very knowledgeable.

  4. Sooooo disappointed to find this post! I collected seed from my Dalmatian peach foxgloves and they are baby seedlings now! What color did yours end up being? What should I expect? Anything at all close to Dalmatian Peach in color?

  5. We all make mistakes, it’s only natural xD

    I’ve tried sowing D. grandiflora and D. lutea last year, but nothing came up. I still have some seeds left from one of the two, but I doubt that’ll still germinate….I’d LOVE to have one (well actually both!) in my garden; they’re said to be more or less perennial.


  6. Oh no! I purchased a BEAUTIFUL blooming Dalmatian Peach plant last year. This year, NOTHING! Should I hope it comes back next year? I love finding you and your posts!

  7. Hi there! I am a young, Generation Z gardener, and recently started a blog about gardening in college. I have posts on vermicomposting and some of my gardening tips. I would appreciate if you would check it out! If you like the content, give me a follow and share it with friends. If you don’t like my blog, I would love to hear your feedback and comments.

  8. Ack! Well, you never know, some might come out close! I need to get another round sown this spring for later bloom. Hoping some of the plants we have now will bloom this year. I’ve lost some to rot the last couple of years—been too wet around here in houston.

  9. Ooh, bummer. I just got some Floret Dalmatian Peach seeds as a birthday gift, and I am soooo excited. I’ve never started foxglove from seed or winter sown, so my fingers are crossed.

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