Foxgloves – The 10 Best Care & Planting Tips

Foxgloves - The 10 Best Care & Planting Tips

Elegant structure builder, poisonous beauty, frugal continuous bloomer – the list of its attributes is long. In creative garden design, the foxglove has long been more than the typical plant for the cottage garden. The following lines will reveal how this virtuoso flower can thrive in your backyard.

lant foxgloves properly

In order to settle the foxglove in the garden, you have the choice between sowing in summer and planting a ready-prepared flower. If you decide to purchase young plants from the garden center, you no longer have to wait until next year for the first blossom. This is how the flower grows quickly:

  • The planting season begins in May, right after the Ice Saints
  • At a suitable location, dig a planting hole with twice the volume of the root ball
  • Mix the excavation with compost or bog soil and refill
  • Plant the young flower in the middle as deep as before and water it

The natural beauty of foxgloves comes into its own in small groups of 3-4 specimens. A planting distance of 40 centimeters (15 inches) is considered appropriate.

Read Also

  • Plant foxgloves, but do it right!
  • Is Foxglove Toxic to Dogs?
  • Do you have to overwinter the thimble?

Care Tips

As long as a thimble does not have to thirst or starve, it shows its most beautiful side. Therefore, water the plant regularly and thoroughly with collected rainwater or decalcified tap water. Avoid targeting this flower with ice-cold water from the garden hose.

A complete mineral-organic fertilizer in March/April covers the need for nutrients. In the near-natural garden, mature compost is used every 14 days from May as organic fertilizer, ideally supplemented with horn shavings.

Which location is suitable?

Foxglove prefers a sunny to partially shaded location. The stiffly upright flower feels particularly comfortable in the shelter of tall trees, where it acts as a magnificent backdrop plant. The foxglove avoids calcareous soil.

Instead, the plant thrives vitally and healthily in nutrient-rich, permeable and fresh, moist garden soil with normal clay content.

When is flowering time?

The flowering period of foxgloves begins in June/July and lasts until August. In summer weather there is a chance of reblooming if you cut back the flower after the first bloom.

Cut the Foxglove properly

There are several arguments in favor of cutting back the Foxglove First and foremost, you will encourage a second bloom if the flower is cut after the first bloom. In addition, you prevent self-seeding, which is not always desirable. Not forgetting the vase cut so that the lush flower stems decorate the house.


All Foxglove species native to us are completely hardy. Even frosty temperatures of -20 degrees Celsius (-4F) are no problem for this plant as long as it is cultivated in the bed. In the bucket, on the other hand, there is a risk that the root ball will freeze through due to its exposed position. Therefore, these precautions are recommended:

  • Cut the plant down to the ground in autumn
  • Cover the substrate with bark mulch, straw, sawdust, or leaves
  • Cover the planter with several layers of jute, fleece, or bubble wrap

Also place the bucket on an insulating base, such as wood or polystyrene, so that the frost does not damage the root ball from below.

propagate foxglove

Foxglove is easy to propagate by sowing. If you do not cut back the flower after flowering, numerous fruit capsules will develop. Inside are the tiny seeds. If you want the plant to stay where it is, just let nature take its course. The flower disperses the seeds on its own.

If you want a targeted propagation at the new location, the specialist trade will have single-variety seeds ready for you. You can sow behind glass from March/April or directly in the bed from July/August. The seeds are light germinators that do not have to go through stratification.

Is foxglove poisonous?

It is no coincidence that Foxglove received the title “Poisonous Plant of the Year” in 2007. Due to the high content of digitalis glycosides, the flower is one of the ultimate poisonous plants in the forest and garden.

The toxin is predominantly present in the leaves. A life-threatening danger emanates from the lush flowering plant, especially for children. They play with thimbles, put their fingers in their mouths, and become poisoned with these symptoms:

  • Nausea and vomiting for many days
  • In the further course visual disturbances
  • The pulse rate drops steadily to 50, in the worst case to 20 beats per minute
  • A dose of 2.5 grams and more is considered fatal for children

Despite its lavish profusion of flowers, it should not be cultivated in the garden when children and pets are around.

Is Foxglove Poisonous to Dogs?

Foxglove’s extreme toxicity doesn’t just apply to humans. If a dog nibbles more than 5 grams of this plant, there is no rescue. Smaller amounts of foxglove cause classic symptoms of poisoning, such as staggering, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea. Dog lovers, therefore, ban this poisonous plant from the garden for the sake of their four-legged companions.

Facts about foxglove seeds

The seeds are of elementary importance for the continued existence of the biennial plant. In August they ripen in the brown capsule fruits. A typical foxglove seed is 0.5 cm, oblong in shape, brownish in color, and either ribbed or flattened. In order to put it in a germ mood, it must not be covered with a substrate. All seeds of this flower belong to the light germinators.

Sowing foxgloves

The ideal time for sowing Foxgloves is in July/August when the plant will also self-seed. Alternatively, spring comes into consideration, then behind glass or in the cold frame. Direct sowing has not proven itself in practice. The very fine seeds germinate much better under controlled conditions.

Mix the seed with a little bird sand and just press it onto sterile seed compost. The light germs are moistened with lime-free water from the atomizer.

In a partially shaded, warm location, the cotyledons break through the seed coat within a few days. The seedlings are pricked out when the first true leaves appear. Once a vigorous plant has developed, it is moved to its final location to flower next year.

The leaves of the foxglove

It is in the leaves of the foxglove that the highest concentration of the poison is found. The danger potential is at the highest level when the biennial plant only develops a rosette of leaves in the year it is sown.

Then the leaves are sometimes mistaken for weeds so that the toxin accidentally gets into the mouth via the hands. You can identify the highly toxic Foxglove leaves by these attributes:

  • Basal leaves are stalked and up to 20 centimeters (7.8 inches) long
  • Spiral or alternate arrangement
  • Leaf margins smooth, notched, or serrate
  • Lanceolate or oval-shaped
  • Hairy greyish-white underneath or on both sides

Is the foxglove perennial?

The fact that foxgloves thrive as a biennial never ceases to raise eyebrows among home gardeners. The reason for the confusion is that the plant only forms a rosette of leaves in the first year and only flowers in the second year.

Depending on the species, the flower dies before winter or appears again in a lavish blaze of color the next year, only to finally die.

Is Foxglove Hardy?

All Foxglove species native to us are completely hardy. In bed, they survive the cold season without any special precautions. If the faded parts of the plant impair the visual appearance in autumn, simply cut the plant back to the ground.

With a bit of luck, the flower will appear again next year, regardless of its classification as a biennial.

In the bucket, on the other hand, the foxglove is more susceptible to the rigors of winter. Here the root ball threatens to freeze through.

Therefore, cut back the flower in autumn and cover the substrate with leaves, straw, sawdust, or needle brushwood. The planter gets a winter coat made of jute or bubble wrap.

Foxglove under nature protection

The foxglove is one of the plants that are under protection. This means that you are not allowed to pick or dig up the flower in the wild. That’s a good thing, considering the high poison content.

The foxglove species

Of the 25 species of foxglove, these 3 are native to us:

  • Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), equipped with particular adaptability to sunny, semi-shady and shady locations
  • Yellow foxglove (Digitalis lutea), petite in growth and more tolerant of lime than its peers
  • Large-flowered foxglove (Digitalis grandiflora), the plant with the largest flowers, reaching a length of 5 centimeters (2 inches)

An overview of the most beautiful varieties

The foxglove plant genus includes a total of 25 species, of which only 4 thrive in the local regions. The following varieties, therefore, originate from either the large-flowered foxglove (Digitalis grandiflora), the yellow foxglove (Digitalis lutea), the red foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) or the rust-colored foxglove (Digitalis ferruginea).

  • Apricot: an adaptable variety with impressive yellowish-pink flowers
  • Candy Mountain: a majestic flower with red flowers and a height of 150-180 cm (5-6 feet)
  • Alba: the white flowering plant stretches 150 cm towards the sky  ( 5 feet)
  • Pam’s choice: the magnificent Digitalis purpurea presents white flowers with purple spots in the throat
  • Large-flowered yellow foxglove: the yellow-flowering plant impresses with bell-shaped flowers that are up to 5 centimeters long (2 inches)
  • Gloxiniaeflora: this flower enchants with red dotted, extra-large flowers in soft pink and bright pink
  • Snow Thimble: the white flowering plant exudes the unique elegance of a foxglove
  • Primerose Carousel: the yellow flower is recommended for pot culture thanks to its height of only 75 cm (30 inches)
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