Foxgloves are easy to grow from seed and will give you the most amazing early display of flowers in your garden.
If you are growing flowers to sell or simply want to be able to cut flowers for your own home then I can recommend Foxgloves. They are both glamorous and productive.
How Can I Grow Foxgloves from Seed?
This is one of the questions asked most often. Here’s the reason. Foxglove plants are available in all good nurseries and garden centres every spring and that’s a great option if you just need a few plants. Around here they cost anything from £4.99 to £8.99 per plant. So if you would like a lot of Foxgloves that can be an expensive way to get the look you want. Sowing seeds is sometimes a better option if you:
- Visualise a swathe of gorgeous Foxgloves in your garden in a particular colour.
- Plan to grow a variety of Foxgloves with a range of heights and colours to sell.
Foxglove seeds are tiny and it can be hard to know how to deal with them. In the wild Foxglove seeds ripen on the plants then are scattered by the wind wafting their tall stalks about. Each plant produces thousands of seeds because there are many losses. Small creatures eat the seeds and this broadcast method of seeding can be a little hit and miss. If the seeds land in the wrong spot they just won’t grow. You can broadcast seeds in your garden or cutting patch but I prefer to sow them indoors where I can control things a little.
I always plant lots of Foxgloves and they perform very well for us in our semi shaded garden. I grow them from seed and plant them around the oak tree and my garden studio in our Spring Garden. We also plant a big patch at the edge of our Bluebell Wood. In 2015 they flowered twice, as usual in spring and then quite unexpectedly again in autumn. 2015 was so mild you see.
When you tidy your garden in autumn you may prefer to cut the flowering stalks off. If you grow several types of Foxgloves it’s quite likely that any plants produced from the seeds will be very similar to our wild Foxglove Digitalis purpurea. For that reason you may wish to remove biennial Foxgloves as soon as flowering is over. We prefer to leave some seed heads on the plants so that tiny creatures have hiding places and seeds to eat over winter. And here’s the bonus. This is what’s left of my Foxgloves this year. Just the tall stalks with seed pods. Aren’t they amazing?
Most Foxgloves are biennials… That means 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. They probably won’t be exactly the same as their parents so it’s exciting to see what grows. Alternatively you can buy a packet of seeds for just a couple of pounds and choose the colours and height that you prefer.
The bright pink wild form is Digitalis purpurea. Foxgloves also come in white and cream and lovely pastel pinks and peachy apricot too. Many of them have beautiful markings inside each bloom which acts like a landing strip for bees and other pollinating insects.
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.
Foxglove 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.
A note of caution: All parts of Digitalis purpurea/Foxgloves are poisonous including the seeds and petals. Please take care handling them and don’t let children play with them.
Sowing Foxglove Seeds Step by Step
- In summer fill a small module tray with fine seed compost to the brim and level off to make a smooth surface.
- Sow a tiny pinch of seeds in each cell spreading them out evenly over the compost.
- Do not cover the seeds with compost. Like many tiny seeds Foxgloves need light to germinate.
- Place the module tray in a tray of tepid water for 10 minutes then remove and allow excess water to drain away
- Stand your seed tray on the windowsill (preferably north facing so there’s plenty of light but no scorching sun)
- Tiny seedlings will appear in a few days. Allow them to grow on and water from below as necessary.
- When the seedlings are large enough to handle prick them out into larger cells or small pots and grow on outdoors for four to six weeks.
- Your young foxgloves will form healthy roots and can be planted out in their flowering positions in September.
- Allow them to grow on throughout autumn and winter. Water if necessary during very dry spells.
- In May and June your Foxgloves will flower giving you a beautiful display and many stems for cutting.
Here’s some of the beautiful Foxgloves you could grow very easily and inexpensively. They are all available here in the Store.
These are tall varieties:
Foxy is a gorgeous shorter version with pastel blooms probably more suited to bouquets than the taller flowers above.
There’s a Foxglove for most gardens and gardeners.
You may want to:
- Grow plants to provide pollen and seeds for wildlife,
- Cut flowers for the house, church or special events
- Grow and sell your own flowers
- Add a splash of colour to your garden in late spring
Whatever the reason I hope you’ll love the Foxgloves you choose for your garden as much as I do! Happy Gardening 🙂