7 Foxglove Care Tips

Foxglove is the towering giant in a flower bed, with some varieties growing up to 5 feet. They are a biennial plant, which means they bloom in their second year with beautiful, bell-shaped flowers, and then die. They reseed easily, so if you want flowering plants every year, plant foxgloves two years in a row. They bloom in a variety of colors, and each plant's offspring will produce multi-colored flowers. The first year, a foxglove will produce leaves, but no flowers.

The foxglove is best planted at the back of your flower bed, otherwise it will block everything behind it. As long as the soil is rich and drains well, foxglove can also be planted along walkways and trees. You should, however, keep foxglove out of areas where children play, as it is highly poisonous if ingested.

TIP: Our expert gardening advisor Karen Thurber adds, "Besides being a beautiful flower in the garden, foxglove is also a medicinal plant. Digitalin is extracted from the leaves and used in multiple medicines to treat heart conditions."

Here are some tips for growing healthy foxglove plants.

1. Buying the Plant

When you are shopping for foxglove, look for plants that have many healthy looking leaves. Make sure you buy one that is already a year old, so you will have blooms that year. Avoid containers with multiple seedlings as these will need two seasons to bloom.

2. Choosing a Spot

The foxglove likes full sun, but in warmer climates it should get some shade in the afternoon. Generally, the foxglove prefers cooler climates, like zones 4 to 8. If you are planting it outside of a prepared bed, look for a spot that has rich, slightly acid soil with good drainage. It should be planted while temperatures are still slightly cool.

3. Preparing the Soil

Foxglove prefers a rich soil, but can be planted in less rich soil as long as you add compost and mulch the area well. If the soil has poor drainage, you may need to add amendments to improve it.

4. Planting

Dig a hole for the foxglove and put a handful of compost into the hole. Add the plant to the hole and gently firm the soil around it. Water the plant, then add a thin layer of mulch. Use mulch like lucerne straw. This will protect the plant from slugs and snails. The plant needs to be fertilized, usually in early spring.

5. Supporting the Plant

Because of their height, foxgloves may droop under their own weight. You can help support them by tying them to a stake or by straightening a clothes hanger, inserting the straight end into the ground, and wrapping the hook around the plant to hold it up.

6. Encouraging Blooming

When the flowers begin to fade, cut the spike from the foliage. This will encourage new shoots from the sides.

TIP: Karen notes, "Foxglove blooms in late spring to early summer."

7. Using the Seeds

When the plants die, lay the dead plant on the ground where you want more to grow. You can also manually remove the seeds and sprinkle them in the appropriate area.