How to Plant and Grow Foxglove

This classic garden favorite adds towers of graceful blooms to beds and borders.

Foxglove (Digitalis spp.) is a classic garden favorite known for its towers of blooms. With many colors to choose from, you'll have an easy time finding a foxglove to fit your garden.

Most foxglove plants are biennials. The first year they're grown from seed, the plants form a rosette of foliage at ground level with no blooms. In the second year, they send up beautiful spikes of blooms, (which hummingbirds love). If you cut them back immediately after they're done blooming, you can encourage a second round of blooms. Foxglove plants die when they finish 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 following year.

A few foxgloves are true perennials, blooming each year. Many of these come in more subdued colors with smaller blossoms, but they are still lovely additions to the perennial garden.

Be careful where you plant foxglove. All parts of the foxglove plant are extremely toxic to humans and animals and should not be planted near places where children and pets play.

Foxglove Overview

Genus Name Digitalis
Common Name Foxglove
Plant Type Perennial
Light Part Sun, Sun
Height 1 to 3 feet
Width 1 to 3 feet
Flower Color Orange, Pink, Purple, White, Yellow
Foliage Color Blue/Green
Season Features Spring Bloom, Summer Bloom
Special Features Attracts Birds, Low Maintenance
Zones 10, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Propagation Seed
Problem Solvers Deer Resistant

Where to Plant Foxglove

Plant foxgloves in full sun to partial shade (depending on the area's summer heat) in well-draining, slightly acidic soil. The tall biennial is perfect for a woodland garden, border, or the back of a garden bed. They are hardy in USDA zones 3–10.

How and When to Plant Foxglove

Foxglove is easy to grow from seed sown in early summer. (If you harvest seed from an existing plant at the end of the growing season, sow it in autumn.) The seeds require light to germinate, so sow them in a prepared garden bed but don't cover them. Keep the soil moist. They require a temperature of 70°F to 80°F to germinate. After they germinate, thin the seedlings to 18 inches apart.

To start seeds indoors, sow them in a flat with a seed-starting mix eight to 10 weeks before the last frost. Barely cover them with the seed-starting mix—they need light—and keep them moist and warm until they germinate three weeks later. After the last frost, harden off the seedlings by moving them outside to a sheltered space for a week, away from wind and sun. Then plant them in fertile, well-draining garden soil.

Foxglove Care Tips

Foxgloves are easy to grow, and they have few requirements in order to prosper.


Many foxglove plants do best in full sun, but some get by fine in part shade. Some perennial types prefer part shade over full sun, so check which type you have before planting. The full-sun varieties may have more problems with powdery mildew on the foliage when they are planted in shady conditions.

Soil and Water

Ideal conditions for foxglove plants vary depending on the variety and species, but in general, they prefer evenly moist, well-drained soils. They're not drought tolerant, especially when in bloom, so give them water during long dry periods. They prefer slightly acidic soil; adding amendments may be a good idea, depending on your soil type.

Temperature and Humidity

Foxgloves grow in almost any climate, but temperatures above 90°F may cause them to wilt. They tolerate a wide humidity range.


Foxglove doesn't require any fertilizer when planted in organically rich soil. However, applying a 5-10-5 slow-release granular fertilizer in spring before the plant blooms might increase the size and quantity of the blooms. For the amount to use, follow product label directions. Water the fertilizer after applying it and keep it away from the plant's foliage.


Remove any dead or damaged foliage that occurs during the season. Cut back foxglove plants by half in autumn after the plant dies back. Deadhead the flowers any time during the season by cutting back the flower stalks by three-quarters.

Pests and Problems

Aphids and mealybugs are attracted to foxglove plants. They can be treated with a blast of water from a garden hose or an application of insecticidal soap or neem oil.

When grown in areas of high humidity, foxgloves are susceptible to fungal diseases such as leaf spot and powdery mildew. Remove any infected foliage and water the plant early in the day so that the foliage has plenty of time to dry.

How to Propagate Foxglove

Foxglove is easy to grow from seed. It self-seeds prolifically unless the blooms are removed before the seeds form. Gardeners can harvest seed from their plants by leaving a few blooms on the plant until they dry. Seed is also available from local and online nurseries. Because foxgloves are largely seed-grown varieties, research is always being done to improve seed strains and introduce new colors.

Perennial foxglove plants can be divided. Dig up the plant and the entire root ball. Use a sharp spade to cut the root ball and plant into two or three sections. Immediately replant the divisions in the garden.

Types of Foxglove

Common Foxglove

Foxglove (Digitalis) Bed Toward House
Rick Taylor

Digitalis purpurea is a short-lived, self-sowing perennial or biennial. It's a mainstay in cottage gardens. Zones 5-8

Digitalis Grandiflora

Digitalis grandiflora foxglove
Rob Cardillo

A beautiful perennial foxglove, these plants do best in part shade and have light yellow blooms from May to June. Zones 3-8

Woolly Foxglove

Digitalis lanata foxglove
Janet Mesic Mackie

Digitalis lanata is an Eastern European native that grows 1 to 2 feet tall and bears bicolor white and brown flowers in June and July. Zones 4-9

Strawberry Foxglove

Perennial Strawberry foxglove
Rob Cardillo

Digitalis x mertonensis bears strawberry-red bloom spikes up to 3 feet tall. Divide plants every two to three years so that they maintain vigor. Zones 4-8

'Foxy' Foxglove

Pink foxglove flowers in garden
Ed Gohlich

Digitalis purpurea 'Foxy' blooms reliably from seed its first year with two- to three-foot-tall spikes of pink, purple, white, or cream with maroon markings. Zones 5-8

Foxglove Companion Plants

Lady's Mantle

ladys mantle alchemilla mollis
Janet Mesic-Mackie

Lady's mantle is a perennial with scalloped leaves that catch rain or dewdrops, making the 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.


Green and White Hostas In Bloom
Julie Maris Semarco

Perennial hosta 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-shaped leaves almost 2 feet long that can be puckered, wavy-edged, white, or variegated green, 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 plantain lily, blooms with white or purplish-lavender funnel-shaped or flared flowers in summer. Some are intensely fragrant. Hostas are a favorite of slugs and deer.


Detail of purple Periwinkle flower
Jay Wilde

Periwinkles deliver glossy leaves, stellar blue flowers, and quick coverage in shady gardens. The only flaw is they're so popular they've become under-appreciated. Keep the plants cut back to encourage bushy growth and to keep them within bounds. Periwinkles can become invasive in some areas.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long do foxglove plants bloom?

    Foxglove plants bloom for two to three months, depending on variety and local weather. The biennials begin blooming in late spring of their second (and last) year of life.

  • Do foxglove plants attract pollinators to the garden?

    Birds, hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, and other insects are attracted to the colorful blooms, and as long as they feed only on the nectar, they survive the experience. However, because foxglove is toxic, animals tend to stay away from the plant. It is deer-resistant and rabbit-resistant.

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  1. Foxglove. National Poison Control Center

  2. Foxglove. ASPCA

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