Caring For Foxglove in the Garden

caring for foxglove in the garden digitalis

Caring for Foxglove in the garden is a rewarding experience. Foxglove (Digitalis) is one of my favorite garden flowers. I love the tall spires of flowers, especially grown in large groups. The trumpet shaped flowers of the foxglove are hummingbird magnets. 

This biennial is known to reseed itself and return year after year from new seedlings however each plant will only live for two years. The seedlings will not flower the first-year so keep this in mind if growing foxglove from seed.

Purchasing foxglove grown in a nursery that is already in the flowering stage means that, most likely, the purchased plant won’t return the following year. Growing foxglove seeds into your own plants for a more rewarding experience.

Light Requirements for Foxglove

Caring for foxglove is relatively easy if you provide the right conditions for it to thrive. Foxglove (Digitalis) can be grown in full sun they actually do quite well in a partially shaded area. In the wild Foxglove grows in wooded areas where sunlight is limited. Make sure the foxglove gets at least 3 to 6 hours of direct sunlight every day. If grown in full sun you may notice some wilting especially when the temperature gets up to around 90F. 

Managing Blooms

Most varieties of foxglove start blooming in early to midsummer form the main stalk. Once the main stalk has finished blooming and removed you may be rewarded with additional flower stalks. 

Caring For Foxglove: Water

Make sure to keep the soil moist when growing Digitalis but not wet because they are susceptible to crown rot. When caring for your foxglove be sure and provide about an inch of water per week. This is sufficient for a health foxglove however watering needs will vary depending on the temperature and amount of sunlight. If grown in full sunlight the foxglove will likely require more than an inch of water per week especially if the temperature is sustaining around 90F for extended periods.

Soil Conditions

Foxglove prefers a loamy soil however can be grown in average soil provided it’s well draining. Best grown in slightly acidic soil. When planting your foxglove make sure to loosen the soil deeply and provide lots of organic matter in the form of compost.

Caring For Foxglove: Pruning

The only branching that rises from the base are the tall spires that will be covered in flowers so the only pruning that may be required with foxglove is to remove spent blooms unless you are planning on letting the plant self-seed. If allowing to self-seed don’t remove the spent blooms until late fall.

Tips: Growing and Caring for Foxglove

Foxglove looks best when you grow them in groves for a cottage or woodland garden. The tall spires of trumpet shaped flowers make excellent borders planted towards the back of the beds. They also look great in front of an evergreen backdrop.

Most species of Digitalis are biennial meaning they only live two years but some are true perennials so research the different varieties.

Staking the tall flower stalks may be necessary if you live in a windy area.

Foxglove will readily reseed itself. Since most are biennial, this is a great thing so you don’t have to purchase them each year. If you want the foxglove to reseed itself then it’s best not to mulch around the base of the plant where seeds will fall. The seeds of the Digitalis are very small, dust like. If the seeds find their way to the soil through a deep layer of mulch the tiny seedling will most likely die off before getting large enough to reach the needed sunlight.

NOTE: There is also a medication named Digitalis that is derived from foxglove. Digitalis (the medication) is used to lower heart rate so care should be taken when handling this plant. Wear gloves when handling and keep away from children or any pets that might chew on plants.

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