Common foxglove flowers form on tall spikes and are shaped like fingers cut off a glove, which explains their scientific name Digitalis, meaning “finger-like.” Once the flowers fade and drop off, small green seed pods form that later turn brownish and open to release the tiny, tiny black seeds.

Foxgloves are biennials, which means that seeds are planted outside in the spring and the resulting seedlings are transplanted sometime before fall. These plants will flower the following year. Foxgloves like moist soil and shade and they are an exceptionally easy plant to grow as long as the soil doesn’t become too dry.

All of my large foxgloves are plants I have started from seed I collected over the years. I started with seeds from a foxglove with very deep pink flowers and continued collecting seed from offspring of that original plant. I now have huge numbers of foxgloves in various shades of pink, rose, white, and a very pale yellow.

Wherever you see foxglove flowers you will also see lots of visiting bees… today there is a constant buzzing sound in the area where my foxgloves are blooming. I guess that explains why so many of my foxglove photographs have bees in them!

I also have a bed of miniature yellow foxgloves that I started from purchased seed. They have tiny, soft yellow flowers with pointed edges (see photo above with bee). Although these little foxgloves aren’t as showy as the larger ones, they make a lovely subdued display, and best of all, these miniature foxgloves are a true perennial and the same plants come back year after year. These perennial foxgloves also are easy to propagate from seed.

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Dick Gumpper

I also started these plants from seed and they were very beautiful this year. My situation is that where they are planted I do not want any more seeds to propigate so I am wondering if and when I should cut them back. To be honest they do not look so great after they flowered so I would like to cut them down.

I would appreciate ant info you could give me.

Thanks in advance.Dick Gumpper

Shirley (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity)

Most foxgloves are biennials and once they have flowered, that particular plant will probably die down. I try to cut foxgloves down or pull them up just after they have finished flowering. Otherwise they will drop seed and I will end up with hundreds of tiny seedlings all crowded together at the base of the plant. It is nice, though, if you have some area of your garden where you can broadcast a few of the dried seeds. That way there will always be young plants ready to flower that you can set out where you want the foxgloves to be. Usually if you do not cut foxgloves down after they have flowered, they will die back on their own… like you said, after flowering they are not very attractive. One caveat… some foxgloves are perennials, and these will come back year after year without replanting. For these, I cut only the flower stalks off after they have finished flowering. If you want to save the seeds, you should wait until the seeds have dried but before the pods have opened and released the seeds.

Kathy

Last year, I was the lucky recipient of a volunteer foxglove (I understand that seeds can blow up to 3 miles away) and I am enamored! I attempted to start a small “foxglove garden” and was disappointed in my efforts. I did not have a lot of luck in my bumbling trials to propogate the seeds. Rather, last year, I cut down the spent stalk after a severe wind storm, probably too soon for seeds to dry on the stalk and be released. This year, I cut off a few seed pods from the new mother plant and stuck them in the ground, but no seedlings have come to the surface. One lone plant is very lonely – albeit lovely! While other people complain that these come back like rabbits, I have had no such luck. Thank you for the comments. I will now not be so impatient but wait until the seeds have dried and the pods start opening on their own to release the seeds.

Shirley (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity)

Kathy, one thing you might try is to make sure that the soil around your foxglove plant is soft and well worked up… then leave the flower stalks on the plant. When the seed pods dry and open, the seeds will drop into the soil and will probably germinate. You won’t see any germination until mid or late spring, but if you are careful not to disturb the soil around the foxglove, I would bet that next year you will find more little seedlings around that mother foxglove than you will really want!

lees

I saved some seeds in a envelope, I have another plant that when you collect the seeds you have to freeze them for 5 days before planting, is this true for foxgove?

Shirley (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity)

Lees, I have always just scattered the seeds. They naturally would go through a cold period here over winter. I guess it would depend on when the seeds were planted… I have always planted mine in the fall after the seed pods dried. If you planted your saved seeds in the spring, I would think yes, they would need some time in the freezer first.

margaret

I planted in early spring, some small foxglove plants bought from the nursery, how or when do they flower. The plants are now very healthy and leafy looking. Thanks

Shirley (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity)

Margaret, since your foxgloves were planted last spring, they should blossom this year. Most foxgloves are biennials, which means that the plants need a year of growth before they blossom the second year. It sounds like your foxgloves are doing well.

Kelly

Shirley,

Your post was great! I have a quick question for you. I bought two foxglove about a month ago…because I was waiting for a landscaper to show up, I kept them in the pots for a few weeks. I planted them a week ago in my back yard. The plants look healthy, nice and green (except a few lower leaves are turning greenish yellow…should I be worried about this?), however, the stalks are almost bare now. There are a few flowers and unopened buds at the top of the stalks. The rest is just a green stick. New stalks are coming up. Is it normal that I have these bare stalks? Do I wait until there are NO more flowers on the stalk to cut it down? Also, It seems that I am loosing flowers to quickly to achieve the beautiful look that you have shown in your pictures…am I doing something wrong? Thank you!!!

Betty

love my foxglove…But Im up north zone 4 and have it for 3 years and i dont see any signs of it in my gardens had 2 mother plants and then tons of babies no sign of it?? help… thank you

Shirley (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity)

Betty, it sounds like your mother plants had lived out their lifespan, and the baby plants just weren’t mature or sturdy enough to withstand a zone 4 winter.

Don’t give up just yet, though. The baby plants may still appear. We’re in zone 4 too, and the baby foxgloves haven’t shown up so far here either.