Past Articles Library | How to Grow Foxglove
If you are looking for a plant that is easy to grow and works wonderful as a backdrop for a flower bed then the simple foxglove is for you. But before we get to growing this USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4 through 10 plant, let’s classify it. Some people believe that foxglove is a perennial but the truth is it is a short lived perennial or biennial. The reason for this confusion comes from the fact that this plant reseeds easily. In doing so, foxgloves dying away are never really noticed since they are quickly replaced by naturally reseeding.
Now that we understand the life cycle of a foxglove, let’s also answer the question as to the height. There are several different choices when it comes to height. The rusty foxglove is one that can reach a height of six feet while the foxy hybrid’s mature height is two to three feet. If you are looking for something in between, take a look at the common foxglove. This type of foxglove has a mature size of four to five feet.
Regardless of which type of foxglove you pick, the preferred propagation method is seed. It can be directly seeded into the prepared garden space after your local frost free date. Do not expect immediate results. Foxglove seed can take up to 21 days to germinate. Another choice is to plant seed indoors in January. If you pick this time to plant your seed, the foxglove will bloom the first year. A further choice is to plant your seed in August but you will either need the use of an unheated greenhouse or cold frame. The seedlings from the latter approach will be planted in the following spring after your local frost free date.
When it comes to site selection, you need a garden space that is rich in humus and is well draining. You also want it near your watering water source. One of the reasons that foxglove plants die prematurely is because the soil either becomes too dry or is too wet. It is better to have a convenient water source handy for those times you need to water.
The other factor you need to consider when planning the location for your foxglove is how hot your local summer is. Foxglove can survive in full sun, partial shade, and shade. Which one you choose depends on the type of summer. Hot summers require that foxgloves be planted in the shade. A few hot days but generally cool summers will necessary to plant foxgloves in areas of partial shade. In this environment, when the day’s high hits the foxgloves will be in the shade. Foxgloves planted in cool summer regions will need to be planted in full sun.
Now that you have picked your appropriate garden space and planned your planting time, the next step is to learn how to plant the seed. Regardless of when or how, foxglove seed needs to be planted in a well draining soil. The seed of this plant requires light to germinate. In doing so, do not cover. Once planted mist the soil and keep it evenly moist until the seed germinates. After the seeds have germinated, space out the plants so that there is 12 inches between each foxglove plant.
To help keep the foxglove at bay, deadhead the flowers as soon as they are spent. This simple garden task will do three things. One, it will keep reseeding under control. Two, you may get a second of flush of bloom from your foxglove and three, deadheading will keep the garden looking tidy.
When it comes to additional care, the foxglove pretty much takes care of itself except in colder regions of the USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4 through 10. In these colder areas, you will need to cut back the plant material and then add three to 5 inches of mulch. When doing this task, make sure that you cover the crown of the foxglove.
What if you have no land by which to enjoy foxglove? Well, believe it or not, this biennial works well in a container planting and can become the “thriller” in any container garden design. To create a container garden with foxglove you will need to start with choosing a container. Due to the height of this plant, you will need one that is at least 10 inches deep and contains a drainage hole. Once you have selected your container, clean and sterilize it. This process is easy to do and begins with fill a basin with water and a capful of bleach. Add the pot and allow to soak for a few minutes. Next, scrub the container to remove soil. Rinse in clear water and sit out in the sun to dry.
Once the container is dry, place drainage material in the bottom of the pot and fill with a well draining potting soil. Place the thriller or in this case the foxglove in the center of the container. Add the filler around the foxglove and finish off with a spiller coming over the edge of the container. Need some ideas? Consider using periwinkle, petunias, begonias or lady’s mantle as a filler. When it comes to a spiller, consider a sweet potato vine, trailing begonias, ivy, or vinca.
While the foxglove will grow wonderfully in a container, there is one tip I would like to give. The downfall of many foxglove plants is not the sun but the soil moisture. If the soil is too dry for too long, the foxglove plants will die. On the other hand, if the soil is left too wet, the plants will rot. In the case of a container garden, as long as you have drainage holes in the bottom of the container then you should be fine. But, the issue arises when the soil is dry. To aid in keeping the soil moist, you can do one of two things. You can add some peat moss to your soil medium. While this will keep the soil moist, it can also keep it too moist. A better solution is to use a hydrogel. In this example, you can use a commercially made hydrogel or you can harvest hydrogel from clean diaper. Either one of these approaches will keep the soil evenly moist without making it soggy.