Foxglove Plants – Digitalis Purpurea
If your garden needs a little height, foxglove plants are easy to grow. These eye-catching and colorful plants can grow to be over a meter tall and look great in most gardens.
Foxgloves are known for their striking and attractive bell-shaped flowers that grow in clusters at the top of long stems and their height.
Foxglove plants are available in various vibrant colors such as lavender, cream, apricot, white, and purple.
If you want to add some tall-growing flowers to your foxglove plants, I recommend getting delphinium, lupin, and hollyhock seedlings. These four, when grown together, will create a lovely cottage garden effect.
You’ll need to find a good spot to plant your seedlings once you’ve obtained them. Foxgloves will grow in most conditions, but they thrive in semi-shade, moist soil that is not prone to frost.
Keep in mind that foxgloves are highly toxic. The entire plant is poisonous, including the seeds, leaves, and roots.
So, when planting or caring for them, wear gloves. And, if you have young children (who tend to put things and their hands in their mouths), I recommend that you consider carefully where you plant them.
Before you plant, dig in some compost once you’ve found the right spot. They prefer nutrient-rich soil, which will help them get off to a good start.
It’s critical not to grow each seedling too close together, as you’d expect from plants with some height – around 35cm apart is ideal.
If you plant established foxgloves (plants that have spent extra months growing at the nursery to increase the pleasure you get from each plant), you can expect them to flower in about two months.
If you decide to grow foxglove seedlings, you can expect them to flower in three to four months.
Deadhead (remove the dead flowers) before the last blooms open for a more extended flowering season. This will encourage the plants to bloom once more.
If you don’t want to extend your foxglove flower display for next year, this will also prevent the flowers from going to seed.
Several varieties of the common foxglove are unusual plants for any perennial garden. Sutton’s apricot has flowers, and gloxinioides have giant pink, purple, creamy yellow, or pink bell-shaped blooms with frilly edges.
Foxglove Digitalis purpurea is a biennial plant, which means it has a two-year life cycle. The first year will be a rosette of leaves, while the second year will see tall spires emerge, flower, set seed, and die.
The Excelsior hybrids of the common foxglove produce pastel blooms that form around the circumference of each stem.
Each bell is held horizontally from the stem, giving the gardener an intimate view of the chocolate dots and blotches at the center.
All cultivated varieties of the common foxglove and the straight species are best grown from seed every year. A biennial in nature, the common foxglove flower the first year vegetatively and produces flowers and seeds in the second year.
The seed is easily saved for spring sowing or may be allowed to fall to the ground to self-sow.
While the most frequently seen, the common foxglove is by no means the only foxglove hardy to our region. D. Grandiflora, yellow foxglove, is hardy to Zone 3.
A native of Siberia and Turkey, this delightful plant only reaches about 3 feet in full bloom. Pale yellow bells sport brown veins on the inside. These plants may be either biennial or perennial and are often reasonably short-lived.
The rusty foxglove, D. ferruginea, is a natural garden plant treasure. This foxglove produces less abundant yet unique golden brown blooms with deep rusty brown veins inside dark green leaves from the center of hardy plants.
Rusty foxglove is native to southern Europe and the Middle East and is hardy to Zone 4. It is a perennial and reaches up to 18 inches in spread. It may be easily divided after its second year.
Another member of the foxglove genus, D. parviflora, is also a perennial. Leaves are generally slightly toothed and a lustrous green. Two-foot tall stems bear dense clusters of dark orange to brown blossoms, each with brown-tinged purple edges.
Commonly known as chocolate foxglove, some people believe the foliage has a chocolate fragrance, but it is more likely its name was derived from the unusual coloration of the flowers.
Foxglove plants thrive in rich, well-drained soil. Keeping the soil moist is an essential part of caring for foxglove plants.
The gardener can encourage the regrowth of foxglove flowers as a biennial or short-lived perennial by not letting the soil dry out or become too wet.
Foxglove flowers can be grown from seed, with blossoms appearing in the second year. Foxglove plants reseed themselves profusely if the flower heads are not removed.
It is possible that using them as cut flowers will reduce reseeding. If the flowers are allowed to drop seeds, thin the seedlings to about 18 inches (46 cm.) apart the following year to give growing foxgloves room to develop.
If you want more foxglove plants next year, let the season’s last flowers dry on the stalk and drop seeds for new growth.
Commercially, the foxglove plant is grown to distillate the heart medication Digitalis.
Children and pets should be kept away from the foxglove plant because all parts can be toxic if consumed.
This could explain why deer and rabbits avoid them. Hummingbirds are drawn to their nectar.
Foxglove Plants Interesting Facts
Oscar Wilde wrote that a “weed is just a flower out of favor,” which describes the now-we-love-it, now-we-don’t-history of foxgloves. These spires of colorful cascading bell-shaped blooms are again getting deserved attention as a cottage garden basic.
This year a pale yellow digitalis Primrose Carousel covered “girl” on Thompson and Morgan’s seeds catalog.
Most seed starting packets contain mixed colors, but they can be bought separately in shades of apricot, raspberry, purple, pinks, bronze, cream, and whites and combinations with darker exterior colors and pale interior.
For biennials, sow foxglove seed in spring or summer for blooms the following year. For perennials, buy them by plant or grow from seed.
They are stupendous when grouped. Avoid lining them up like soldiers because this is most unnatural. Thought of as a tall plant, there are also dwarf varieties.
- Particulars: Biennials and perennials, zones 4 to 8, height 45 to 150cm (17 to 60 inches). Flowering: Early summer to early autumn. Good cut flower.
- Site: Any soil provided is not too wet or dry; light shade to full sun.
- Caution: All parts are poisonous if eaten.