Make room in your gardens to try Rehmannia, a brightly-colored and frilly Chinese foxglove. Shaded gardens will glow with these stately beauties.

Foliage is glossy with scalloped leaves and graceful, upright flower stems filled with nodding, deep rose-colored, bell-like blossoms shaped like flaring foxgloves or open-lipped snapdragons.

Blooming well in shady spots, the sizable bright blossoms will light up the area. Long-lasting and prolific blooming, the plants continue to send up two to three-foot high spikes of bells for three to four months, according to Renees Garden Seeds, one of the best seed sources for this unusual plant.

For Florida gardens, the best time to start seeds is in the fall. Plants can overwinter and gardeners can expect blooms the following spring. Spring-planted seeds will bloom the second spring.

In flats filled with good-quality seed-starting mix, scatter the fine seeds on the surface, covering only lightly, preferably with vermiculite. Slow to germinate (three to four weeks), the flats should be kept in strong light, evenly moist. When seedlings are large enough to handle, separate and transplant into six-packs or individual pots filled with a potting mix to encourage root development. Feed seedlings every two weeks with a half-strength water-soluble fertilizer. When plants are three to four inches tall, gradually acclimate them to the outdoors, eventually planting them 10 inches apart in rich, well-drained soil in partial shade. Plants are hardy to Zone 7.

A glorious example of this plant was spotted this spring at Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival in Orlando, and they were indeed a stirring sight–one of those plants you’ve “got” to grow.

For seeds, see Renees Garden Seeds (www.reneesgarden.com).

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