On a dull June day Foxgloves light up shady corners in the garden. Given the right conditions they are a doddle to grow and what’s more bees and other insects love them. So what are the right conditions?
Well Foxgloves are woodland plants. They will grow in full sun but prefer partially shaded positions where the soil is rich and moist.
They have characteristics which make them ideal for shade:
1) Broad leaves to make the most of all the available light.
2) They bloom before the tree canopy shades the ground.
3) They produce plenty of seed and reproduce easily.
Tall spires of tubular flowers rise from rosettes of softly felted green leaves in late spring and early summer. Around here that’s May and June. If you pick the main flower the plant will produce lots of side shoots with shorter flower spikes.
In country gardens many popular plants are hummocky perennials. Foxgloves are brilliant because they provide a contrast to all those rounded plants. Also they don’t form huge clumps of foliage… they grow up rather than out adding both colour and drama to gardens. Most Foxgloves will reach at least 3 feet /1 metre and some will grow to 6 feet / 2 metres or more.
For years I grew just the plain white ones Digitalis purpurea ‘Alba‘ They are lovely. Just the job I thought when I was going through my tasteful phase. I soon grew out of that. I learned not to be afraid of experimenting… after all if a planting scheme doesn’t work you can easily change it around next year.
Year by year I have acquired Foxgloves in other colours such as apricot, pale pink, deep pink and of course lots of white ones with spotted throats.
Foxgloves look best growing in dappled shade under deciduous trees, in shady areas of wild gardens and in woodland.
That’s exactly how they should be grown I think.
Foxgloves are biennials and are easily grown from seed. Sow them this year to flower in May and June next year. After flowering Foxgloves set seed and die. Some may live longer but generally don’t flower as well after the first really vigorous flowering.
You can sow the tiny seeds now. They need light to germinate so don’t cover with compost. If you simply can’t wait until next year then pot grown plants are available from all good nurseries and garden centres.
Even so… I wouldn’t be without Foxgloves in my garden.
Happy Gardening. Gillian 🙂