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Make a Vertical Statement in Your Garden With Colorful, Stately Foxgloves

Dorothy is a Master Gardener, former newspaper reporter, and the author of several books. Michael is a landscape/nature photographer in NM.

Foxgloves are stately and beautiful and will fill the bill if you are looking for something that will create a vertical statement in your garden.

Foxgloves are stately and beautiful and will fill the bill if you are looking for something that will create a vertical statement in your garden.

Where Foxgloves Will Grow

Loved by hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies, foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea) are stunning flowers that are hardy in USDA growing zones 4–10. But if you live in the hotter areas of those zones and want your presentation of them to turn heads, you need to plant them where they have some afternoon shade. Here in New Mexico—where foxgloves are extremely popular but must weather the scorching afternoon sun—these stately flowers need even more shade.

Make sure your soil is rich and drains well before you decide to plant foxgloves. You will need to always keep the soil moist (not wet/soggy); don't ever allow your soil to dry out completely.

These purple foxgloves are stunning.

These purple foxgloves are stunning.

Growing Foxgloves From Seed

When planting foxgloves from seed, they will produce roots and leaves the first year, but no flowers. So if you need instant gratification, you may want to purchase small plants from a nursery.

If you do decide you want to start your plants from seeds, however, always start them in quality seed-starting compost. But don't press them into the soil, as they require light for germination. Scattering them lightly across the soil will work just fine. Your goal should be to have the seeds about an inch or so apart, thinning them to about a foot apart once they germinate. Don't overcrowd them!

Water completely and allow your container to drain. You can expect your seeds to germinate in about 10 days. At which time, you can place the tiny plants in small pots (usually 3-inch pots are adequate).

When They Can Be Planted

Foxgloves are generally biennials, producing a crown of leaves during the first season and flowering in spring of the second season. Seeds should be sown once they are ripe—which is usually in early August—or you can sow the seeds in March.

If possible, you should plant your foxgloves outdoors in the fall. But if you feel like the plants are too small to be planted outdoors, keep them in their containers until spring and plant them outside instead. Always allow plenty of space between plants, and you will be rewarded with tall, stately plants displaying beautiful flowers.

Fabulous apricot foxgloves.

Fabulous apricot foxgloves.

Harvesting Foxglove Seeds

You can harvest foxglove seeds when the pods turn uniformly brown and start to split open (usually in late summer). Just gently shake the seeds out of the pod into some type of a container (your hand or even an envelope will work). These flowers self-seed readily, so any of the unharvested seeds on your plants should germinate and begin to grow during the next growing season.

If possible, sow the seeds as soon as they are collected.

To prevent plants popping up in your garden in areas in which they are unwanted, cut down the stalks before they have a chance to shed their seeds.

You can shake the seed pods of the foxgloves and the seeds should fall out into your hand or a container held beneath the pods. If you decide to collect them into your hand, as pictured, make sure your hands are dry.

You can shake the seed pods of the foxgloves and the seeds should fall out into your hand or a container held beneath the pods. If you decide to collect them into your hand, as pictured, make sure your hands are dry.

Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon Digitalis)

A different type of foxglove, the foxglove beardtongue creates a profusion of white tubular flowers that attract long-tongued bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. They are deer resistant and drought tolerant, making them an attractive choice for many gardeners.

Herbaceous perennials, foxglove beardtongues can grow up to about 4 feet tall. This makes them a suitable choice for the backs of borders, where they appreciate average-to-moist, well-draining soil in order to perform at their best. They can be grown in either full sun or partial shade.

These flowers were so named because the sterile stamen has a tuft of small hairs. They are also known as Mississippi penstemon, smooth white beardtongue, and talus slope penstemon.

References

  1. Knox, Gerald M. (Editor), Step By Step Successful Gardening, Better Homes and Gardens (1987)
  2. Perennials (Pocket Guide) (2004), An Oceana Book, Quantum Publishing

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Mike and Dorothy McKenney

Comments

Mike and Dorothy McKenney (author) from United States on July 01, 2019:

You are very welcome. Thanks for taking the time to check out the article; hope you find it useful in your gardening endeavors.

Jennifer Jorgenson on June 30, 2019:

Bob Ewing: No shortage of seeds when it comes to Foxglove!

Mike and Dorothy McKenney: You are most welcome!

Bob Ewing from New Brunswick on June 30, 2019:

I am a seed saver so appreciate the information on how to save Foxglove seeds. Great photos and very useful information.

Mike and Dorothy McKenney (author) from United States on June 30, 2019:

Thank you Jennifer!

Jennifer Jorgenson on June 29, 2019:

I love foxglove. What a great article. Thank you!

Mike and Dorothy McKenney (author) from United States on June 28, 2019:

Thanks so much! I, too, wish they weren't toxic; I'm so afraid of our precious puppy getting poisoned.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on June 28, 2019:

Very nice and informative article about growing foxgloves.

They are in such beautiful colours and look so pretty. I would love to plant them. Thanks for sharing the details. I wish they were not toxic.

Thanks and good day.

Mike and Dorothy McKenney (author) from United States on June 27, 2019:

Thanks for reading!

RTalloni on June 27, 2019:

They are beautiful. Thanks much for the useful info.