Rehmannia elata

Rehmannia elata

This is one of the few cottagey perennials that I still grow in my Sydney garden, as it thrives well. Prolonged rainy spells may cause some of its basal rosettes of leaves to die off but there are usually enough left to guarantee its survival. It comes from China and is sometimes called the Chinese foxglove, as its spires of large blooms do resemble bright pink-purple foxglove flowers. The attractive leaves are lobed and rather hairy. It grows up to 60-100 cm in height and spreads by runners; I have never found it to be invasive. It grows best in a sunny spot with good soil and reasonable drainage. It flowers over a long period from late spring to late summer, or even into early autumn. Remove the spent spikes to encourage further blooms. This plant is said to belong to the Plantaginaceae family of plants, which includes Digitalis, Lophospermum, Maurandya, Russelia and Veronica, although some authorities believe it should be classified with Gesneriaceae, because of its kinship with gloxinia and African violets.

Flowers in January, February, November, December.