Foxgloves (Digitalis) Growing Guide

summer house, foxglove, dunes-189180.jpg

The sight of towering spires of foxgloves (digitalis) blossoming in cottage gardens and woodland edges never fails to impress. With their speckled throats and delicate bell-shaped blooms, these classic perennials have charmed gardeners for centuries.

Though often short-lived, foxgloves reward the patient gardener with a ravishing floral display year after year. Whether you’re looking to add vertical interest to borders, highlight shaded areas, or simply revel in their ephemeral beauty, foxgloves are a must for any garden.

This growing guide covers everything you need to know to successfully cultivate foxgloves from planting to care to propagation. Follow these tips and enjoy a season of resplendent foxgloves gracing your outdoor space.

You might also be interested in: Perennials for Wild Gardens

Planting Foxgloves for Success

One of the keys to growing vibrant foxgloves is giving them a healthy start. Follow these tips when planting foxglove seedlings or mature plants:

Prepare the soil – Foxgloves thrive in nutrient-rich, well-draining soil. Incorporate compost or well-rotted manure before planting.

Select a site – Plant in full to part sun exposures with afternoon shade. Avoid soggy or compacted soil.

Space properly – Allow 12-18 inches between plants so air circulates freely.

Plant at the right depth – Set the crown just below soil level and avoid burying it too deep.

Water thoroughly – Water new plantings well and continue until established.

Following proper planting techniques encourages vigorous growth and sets your foxgloves up for success. Pay close attention to soil preparation, drainage, and adequate spacing when placing your plants.

Nurturing Foxgloves to Perfection

Caring for foxgloves doesn’t require much effort, but attending to their basic needs is vital. Ensure your plants thrive with proper watering, fertilization, and pest prevention.

Watering – Supply consistent moisture, especially during dry periods. Established plants are moderately drought tolerant.

Fertilizing – Apply a balanced organic fertilizer at planting and again halfway through the growing season.

Staking – Stake tall varieties if needed to prevent flopping in rain or wind.

Pest prevention – Watch for aphids, thrips, leaf miners, and Japanese beetles. Remove by hand or use insecticidal soap.

Deadheading – Snip spent blooms to encourage reblooming later in summer. Allow some flowers to go to seed for propagation.

With proper care, foxgloves will flourish, rewarding you with their signature spires for many weeks. Be attentive to their needs, and your foxgloves will continue performing year after year.

Foxgloves and the Garden Landscape

Incorporating foxgloves (digitalis) into your garden design opens up endless possibilities. As a classic cottage garden plant, they integrate effortlessly into informal designs. Or use them to bring vertical drama to beds, borders or containers.

Foxgloves look striking when allowed to self-sow near paths, steps and walls. Underplant with low-growing perennials like catmint and coral bells which appreciate the filtered shade cast by the tall flower spires.

For a colourful combination, try planting foxgloves alongside pink roses, lavender, and blue Siberian iris. The blue-purple foxglove blooms nicely complement the other flower hues.

In partly shaded beds, foxgloves add delightful contrast and height among ferns, astilbes, and hellebores. They’re also stunning dotted within woodland plantings or at the edge of a wooded area.

For containers, select compact Foxglove varieties like ‘Pam’s Split’ that won’t overpower other plants. Combining foxgloves with calibrachoas, petunias, and trailing verbenas makes a lovely vertical display.

Propagating Foxgloves for Abundance

One of the easiest ways to get more foxgloves is by collecting and sowing their seeds. Alternatively, establish new plants through root division in spring or fall.

Seed Propagation

In late summer, gather dried seed pods once they turn brown and brittle. Gently crush the pods and separate out the tiny seeds. Store seeds in a paper envelope in a cool, dry place over winter.

The following spring, sow seeds just below the soil surface in containers or directly outside where plants are desired. Maintain even moisture until seedlings emerge in 10-20 days. Transplant seedlings once they reach 3-4 inches tall.

Root Division

Carefully dig up mature foxglove clumps in early spring or fall. Shake off excess soil and separate the root mass into smaller divisions using a sharp knife or garden fork, ensuring each division has some roots and emerging shoots.

Replant divisions 12-18 inches apart in prepared garden soil, covering the crown just below the surface. Water well and maintain moisture until the transplants are growing steadily. Dividing every 2-3 years rejuvenates plants and yields more foxgloves.

FAQs: Foxgloves (Digitalis) Care

If you’re new to growing foxgloves, some common questions may arise. Here are helpful answers to a few frequently asked foxglove care topics:

Q. How often should I water foxgloves?

  • Water foxgloves 1-2 times per week, providing about 1 inch of moisture. Water more frequently in extreme heat. Established plants have some drought tolerance.

Q. When should I fertilize foxgloves?

  • Apply balanced organic fertilizer once at planting and again midseason. Avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers which cause excess foliage growth.

Q. What are some common problems with foxgloves?

  • Flopping, leaf spot fungus, crown rot in soggy soils, and pests like thrips, aphids, and leaf miners. Provide good air circulation and avoid overcrowding to prevent diseases. Monitor for pests and remove them promptly.

Q. Should I deadhead spent foxglove blooms?

  • Yes, deadheading prolongs the bloom period. But leave some spent flowers so seeds can develop for future propagation.

Q. Is it easy to grow foxgloves from seeds?

  • Foxgloves readily self-sow from dropped seeds. Simply collect dried pods in fall, extract the seeds, sow in spring for new plants.

Final thoughts

With their elegant spires in soft pinks, lavenders, creams, and whites, few plants evoke the romance of an English cottage garden like foxgloves. Though often short-lived, their self-sowing nature gives us these beauties year after year.

By understanding their growing needs and life cycle, cultivating foxgloves becomes a joy. Plant them in part shade among other perennials, along borders or woodland edges and let them weave their magic.

With the proper care outlined here, you’ll be richly rewarded with foxgloves gracing your garden with a season of breath-taking vertical texture and timeless appeal. Let these captivating classics flourish in your outdoor space and enjoy their fleeting yet unforgettable floral show.

You might also like

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top