Foxgloves are hardy perennials or biennials that grow large, trumpet-shaped flowers on long, leafy stems. They grow well in USDA zones 3-9 and need full sun to part shade exposure.
They are ideal for texture. Longer species are best for increasing height and interest by pruning more loosely planted plants. Also, many species are native to Woodland so are happy to grow in shady areas.
Many species are good for wildlife – long-tongued bees visit tubular flowers to collect pollen and nectar. In Britain, the also-called common or purple foxglove is actually an old wildflower. It was grown in cottage gardens in the middle Ages, tucked in between the vegetables and herbs.
Keep in mind that all parts of foxgloves are poisonous, and can kill an adult human if any part of the plant is ingested. You may want to avoid growing them if you have pets prone to eating garden plants.
Tips For Growing Foxgloves:
Grow foxgloves in moist but well-drained soil in full sun to full shade – some varieties are more shade tolerant than others. Deadhead spent blooms after flowering to encourage a second flush or let themself seed over the garden.
Biennial types can be dug up after they have set seed, but perennial foxgloves should be cut back for autumn, ready to bloom again the following year.
As they are biennial means they don’t bloom until the second year of their growth. Because of this, if you start with seeds, growing foxgloves in containers in the first summer will not be very showy. If you want flowers for your first summer, buy container-grown fox glow plants that have already been planted in the nursery.
Foxglove plants die after flowering, but they drop a lot of seeds that will grow new plants next year. You can deadhead some flowers to encourage new growth, but you will need to drop some flowers if you want seeds.
Where To Grow Foxgloves?
Most foxgloves grow in sticky shade. Their preferred habitat is woodland clearing or at the foot of a local hedge. However, some species, such as the digitalis parviflora and the digitalis obscura, need full sun to grow well.
Foxgloves grow in any type of soil but perform best in well-drained, moist soil. Avoid wearing fox gloves in very wet or very dry soil.
In addition, if you want your foxgloves to plant self-seeds and flowers around the garden each year, you will need to apply fox gloves for two consecutive years.
Growing Foxgloves In Pots
Growing foxgloves in pots are so easy. With a little bit of care, you can have a bounty of colorful foxgloves blooming in spring and early summer.
Basic Requirements To Grow Foxgloves In Pots:
The following things can be considered during growing foxgloves in pots
Size of container
To grow foxgloves in pots, choose a container that is at least 12 inches deep and has drainage holes. Foxgloves come in different sizes and should be spaced at least 1-2 feet apart according to the varieties.
Fill the pot with a well-draining, quality potting mix. Foxgloves like rich organic and well-drained soil with a slightly acidic PH ranging from 5.5 to 6.5
Planting from seeds:
Place foxglove seeds on top of the soil and press in. Do not bury them, they need light to germinate. Gently water the seeds well and keep them moist until they germinate.
Planting from potted nursery pots:
As they are biennial means they took one year to establish and bloom in the second year. So to ensure first season blooms they should be planted from potted nursery plants that are already in their second year of growth.
They will need watering during dry spells. But do not overdo it especially when these biennial plants go dormant during the winter. If the ground stays too wet, it may rot, so be sure to give them good drainage.
If there is a dry period in the summer and they have not received one inch of rain per week or the top two inches of soil is dry, water the plant thoroughly with a drip hose.
Temperature and moisture:
Foxgloves tend to do better in cold temperatures and can shrink in temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. When the temperature reaches between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit the sown seeds will germinate.
Foxgloves are not fussy about moisture, although excessive moisture can encourage some fungal diseases. Provide them plenty of space for good air circulation.
Well-decomposed mulch usually provides sufficient moisture and nutrients for foxgloves. In good soil, fertilizer is rarely needed and too much nitrogen can actually impair flower growth.
However, if your soil is very poor you can apply slow-releasing fertilizers in early spring. Scatter it around the plant and then pour water over the fertilizer to help it settle. Avoid having the fertilizer touch the foliage, as it may burn the plant.
Cutting and Pruning:
You’ll get blooms in the second year after planting. Keep the faded flowers cut to encourage repeat blooms, and stake taller varieties if they start to topple over.
After their flowers fade, deadhead the spent bloom, leaving the crowns in the ground. If you are lucky, your foxgloves may return the next year for a command performance.
Foxgloves Are Self-propagating:
Foxgloves will usually sow themselves unless they are hybrid sterile varieties. Just leave some flowers to dry on the plants at the end of the growing season, and the ripened seeds will drop when they are ready.
If you want to plant your foxgloves somewhere else, tap the capsules over a paper bag to collect the dried seeds. You may even want to tie the bag around the flowers, to make sure the seeds don’t open and fall before you can get to them.
Foxgloves seeds that drop naturally may stay dormant for several years if the growing conditions are not quite right, so don’t be surprised if you see seedlings after the parent plants are gone.
Foxgloves are susceptible to insects like aphids, mealy bugs, slugs, and Japanese beetles. Mild infections are often treated with predatory insects, but serious infections can be treated with insecticide soaps or chemical sprays.
Foxgloves can also be affected by a variety of fungi such as powdery mildew, and leaf spots. These problems can be minimized by providing good air circulation and making sure they are planted in well-draining soil.
Seriously infected plants can be treated with fungicides. Crown rot can also be a serious problem caused by white fungal spores or poorly draining soils. Seriously affected plants will need to be discarded.
Best Varieties To Grow:
The small-flowered foxglove, Digitalis parviflora, has gorgeous, smoky orange blooms that are tightly packed on tapering stems. A hardy perennial species, it is best grown in full sun or partial shade, in moist, well-drained soil.
Digitalis x mertonensis:
Digitalis x mertonensis is commonly known as the strawberry foxglove, owing to its large, pink-red blooms. It is a perennial species that will enjoy growing in moist, well-drained soil in full to partial shade.
The sunset foxglove is a perennial foxglove native to mountainous regions of Spain, so it is more suited to sunny, dry borders than other foxgloves. A frost tolerant species that is about 1m tall.
This hardy perennial species has large, warm-yellow flowers and is thought to be the longest-lived perennial foxglove. It grows to around 80cm in height and makes a lovely cut flower. Grow Digitalis grandiflora in part shade in moist, well-drained soil.
This striking, elegant foxglove bears tightly packed, rusty orange flowers on tall stems, reaching 1.5m in height. A robust species, Digitalis ferruginea is tolerant of most spots, except soils that are excessively wet or dry.
The Canary Island foxglove is a shrubby, tender foxglove with blazing orange blooms and glossy, evergreen foliage. Looks right at home as part of an exotic border but will need protection from frost in winter.
Commonly known as the small foxglove, Digitalis lutea is a delicate species with creamy-yellow flowers. A hardy perennial, it grows to around 60cm and enjoys a partially shaded spot in moist, well-drained soil.
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Companion Plants For Foxgloves:
Different plants can be grown with tall foxgloves which can grow to five or six feet tall. Growing foxgloves with such showy colored plants will create a striking combination of textures.
- Coral bells
- Snapdragons and iris make good companion plants for foxgloves.
Uses of Foxgloves:
Foxglove is used for congestive heart failure, in relieving edema, asthma, epilepsy, tuberculosis, constipation, headache, and spasm.
Side Effects Of Foxgloves:
As it is a poisonous plant so it’s unsafe for anyone to take it by mouth without the advice and care of healthcare professionals. It can cause irregular heart functions and even death.
Symptoms of foxglove poisoning include abdominal discomfort, cataracts, blurred vision, rapid pulse, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, excessive urination, fatigue, muscle weakness, and convulsions. Deaths have occurred when foxglove was mistaken for comfrey or borage.