Stories of fairies and foxglove flowers have abounded for centuries and while I personally don’t believe in fairies, I do believe foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea) will add a touch of whimsical magic to any flower garden. Tall, graceful plants bear rows of bell-shaped blooms on each upright stem that silently ring to attract hummingbirds and bees to come and partake of their nectar. Try your green thumb at growing these storybook beauties with these tips for planting and growing foxglove flowers.
Planting Location and Time
Select a partially shaded planting location that has fertile, well-draining soil. Amend the soil by working in compost prior to planting.
Plant seeds or seedlings in early spring six inches apart, then be patient. Foxgloves are biennials, they won’t bloom until the second year after planting. Apply a 2 inch layer of mulch after seedling are 6 inches tall to retain soil moisture and prevent weeds.
Foxglove blooms from spring through summer, but this trick will keep them blooming until frost: When only a couple of blooms are remaining on the top of the flower spike, cut the flower spike down to the first set of leaves or flower buds. This will stimulate the plant to grow a second round of flower spikes and extend the bloom time by several weeks.
The bell-shaped blooms come in a wide range of colors, including pink, purple, red, coppery rose, yellow, apricot and white. Foxglove flower spikes make long-lasting cut flowers for use in vase arrangements.
Hardiness and Height
Foxglove is hardy in zones 3-10 and will self-seed if the spent blooms are left in place on the flower spike. These plants grow tall, anywhere from 18 inches to 6 feet depending on variety planted and make a perfect backdrop for shorter plants and flowers. Plant width is minimal, the tiny leaves and hanging blooms take up about 4-6 inches in width.
Hummingbirds and bees are attracted to foxglove and deer are repelled by it, but the plant can cause skin irritation to humans. Wear gloves when working with foxgloves plants and keep out of children’s reach. The plant will cause stomach irritation and upset if any part is digested.