Foxgloves have performed very well for us this year. I grew them from seed and planted them around the oak tree and my garden studio in the spring garden. I also planted a big patch at the edge of the Bluebell wood – they flowered twice, as usual in spring and then quite unexpectedly again in autumn. You can cut the flower stalks right back when you tidy your garden in autumn and some people like to remove the plants as soon as flowering is over. As you know I prefer to leave some seed heads on my plants so that tiny creatures have hiding places and seeds to eat over winter. And here’s my bonus. Here’s what’s left of my Foxgloves this year. Just the tall stalks with seed pods. But aren’t they amazing?
Most Foxgloves are biennials… if you sow them this year they will flower next year. What is brilliant about biennials is that you can grow lots of plants very easily and inexpensively from seed and then remove them after flowering to grow something else.
Easy – Sow in late summer or early autumn and they will grow and develop through the winter with little or even no attention from you as long as your garden has sufficient rain! Then they burst into life in spring sending up tall spires of blooms so you will have masses of early flowers in May and June.
Inexpensive – Foxgloves produce masses of tiny seeds. If you have friends with foxgloves in their garden they will probably be delighted to give you some of their seeds. Alternatively you can buy a packet of seeds for just a couple of pounds and choose the colours that you prefer.
The bright pink wild form which is Digitalis purpurea. They also come in white and cream and lovely pastel pinks and peach too. Many of them have beautiful markings inside each bloom which acts like a landing strip for bees and other pollinating insects.
If you haven’t already sown your foxglove seeds this year ready for flowering in spring 2016 don’t worry. You can still grow Foxgloves in your garden. All good nurseries and garden centres will have Foxglove plants for sale in early spring and there are some Foxgloves which you can sow, grow and flower in the same year.
How to sow Foxglove seeds.
Foxglove seeds need light to germinate. I prefer to start them off indoors in trays of compost. I have found that sowing a tiny pinch of seed in just 10 cells of a module tray is the best way to raise Foxgloves. Sowing in cells like this means that you don’t sow too thickly. If you aim to sow just 10 seeds in 10 cells then you will have 100 Foxglove plants. That should be enough for most gardens!
Growing them in cells means that each tiny plant has more space and light so your newly germinated seedlings won’t damp off and rot away. They will develop into nice healthy seedlings which can be pricked out into their own individual cell to grow on. They are quite hardy and don’t need heat at this stage. You can pot them on as they grow then plant them outside when you are ready.
Foxgloves are really woodland edge plants. Like most woodland plants their broad leaves will make the most of the sunshine in early spring before the leaves form on deciduous trees. And then wooosh… up come the flowers in late spring. They prefer partially shaded positions and moisture retentive soil.
You can cut the flowers for a dramatic display indoors. Flowers last about 5 days in nice fresh water. Once you remove the main flower spike the plants will send up side shoots with more flowers… these will be smaller but still gorgeous. If you prefer to leave your blooms in the garden then please take some time to sit and watch the insects make a bee line for your Foxgloves.
Do you grow Foxgloves in your garden? Gillian