Known for its towers of blooms, this classic favorite has long graced many gardens. Foxglove looks much like its name, containing glove-like bells that come in an array of colors. Foxglove is known for its wonderful patterns and makes quite the statement when planted in mass amounts. Be careful where you plant them, as all parts of this plant are highly poisonous.
With so many colors to choose from, you will have an easy time finding a foxglove to fit your garden space. Most foxgloves are biennials, which means that the first year grows from seed and plants will simply be a rosette of foliage at ground level with no blooms. The second year, the glorious spikes of blooms will produce bountiful amounts of seed in order to start the two-year cycle all over again. A few foxgloves are true perennials, blooming each year. Many of these come in more subdued colors with smaller blossoms, but they still are wonderful additions to the perennial garden.
Foxglove Care Must-Knows
Foxglove plants are very easy to grow, and they have very few requirements in order to prosper. Ideal conditions for these plants vary depending on the variety and species, but in general, they prefer evenly moist, well-drained soils. These perennials are not very drought tolerant, especially when in bloom, so make sure to give them water during long dry periods. They also prefer acidic soil, so depending on your soil type, it may be a good idea to add soil acidifiers.
Many foxgloves do best in full sun, but some will get by just fine in part shade. Some perennial types actually prefer part shade over full sun, so make sure to check which type you have before planting. The full sun varieties may have more problems with powdery mildew on the foliage if planted in shady conditions.
It's important to remember that biennial varieties will most likely not bloom in the first year. The second year, they will send up beautiful spikes of blooms (which hummingbirds love), and if you cut them back immediately after they are done, you can encourage a second round of blooms. Also keep in mind that, as a biennial, the foxglove plants will die when they have finished blooming for the season. Make sure to leave a few spent blooms on the plant so they can produce seeds to grow more seedlings the next year.
Because foxgloves are largely seed-grown varieties, there is always research being done to improve seed strains and introduce new colors. Professional breeders are also looking to create first-year flowering plants. Recently, there was a foxglove breakthrough by crossing foxglove with Isoplexis, a plant believed at the time to be another closely related genus, to create Digiplexis. There is some question now as to whether Isoplexis may in fact be a foxglove instead of a separate genus. Either way, Digiplexis is a new line of sterile foxglove that blooms all season on dense plants.
Garden Plans For Foxglove
Front Walk Garden Plan
This eclectic mix of easy-care flowers is the perfect way to make walking to your front door a pleasant journey.
Summer Cottage Garden Plan
Stately delphiniums are the backbone of this colorful cottage garden plan.
More Varieties of Foxglove
Digitalis purpurea is a short-lived, self-sowing perennial or biennial. It is a mainstay in cottage gardens. Zones 5-8
A beautiful perennial foxglove, these plants do best in part shade, and have light yellow blooms from May to June. Zones 3-8
Digitalis lanata is an Eastern European native that grows one to two feet tall and bears bicolor white and brown flowers in June and July. Zones 4-9
Digitalis x mertonensis bears strawberry-red bloom spikes up to three feet tall. Divide plants every two to three years to maintain vigor. Zones 4-8
Plant Foxglove With:
This perennial has scalloped leaves that catch rain or dewdrops, making plants look spangled with jewels. The chartreuse flowers appear in playful, frothy clusters above the foliage. Lady's mantle is ideal for softening the edge of a shaded path or creating a groundcover in dappled shade.
This perennial is one of the easiest plants to grow, as long as you have some shade and ample rainfall. Hostas vary from tiny plants suitable for troughs or rock gardens to massive four-foot clumps with heart-shape leaves almost two feet long that can be puckered, wavy-edged, white or green variegated, blue-gray, chartreuse, emerald-edged—the variations are virtually endless. Hostas in new sizes and touting new foliage features seem to appear each year. This tough, shade-loving perennial, also known as plaintain lily, blooms with white or purplish lavender funnel-shape or flared flowers in summer. Some are intensely fragrant. Hostas are a favorite of slug and deer.
Glossy leaves, stellar blue flowers, quick coverage are what periwinkle delivers in shady gardens. Its only flaw is that it's so popular it's become underappreciated. Keep the plants cut back to encourage bushy growth, and to keep them within bounds. Periwinkle can become invasive in some areas.