A foxglove garden, You Can Grow That!

I’m late with my You Can Grow That! post, but better late than never. This is a tale of the easiest garden I’ve ever created. The work involved allowing foxglove (digitalis purpurea) to establish from one or two transplants from some of my other gardens; letting it flower and set seed; then helping mature seeds spread by shaking seeds from the stalks after the dried seed pods open.

Today, June 6, the foxglove are in full bloom.

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A photo from May 25, 2012 hinted of the display to come.

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I did not plant all these foxglove. All I did was stand back and let these biennials do what they do. The most difficult aspect of building this garden was tolerating the view of ungainly and rather unattractive flower stalks as the seed pods matured … not an easy thing to do when foxglove grow in an oft-viewed, front-and-center perennial bed. In this bed, to the edge of my front lawn and on the low-traffic side of the house, ignoring the maturing seed stalks was pretty easy, particularly when I visualized the reward.

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In addition to the pink hues, the bed contains hints of white.

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The bed is a buzz with bees going from flower to flower … there’s a bee in one of the flowers below. Hummingbirds visit as well … sorry, no shots of hummingbirds. This display will last for about another week. The flowers at the bottom of each stalk will fade and begin to set seed while those farther up will still be in bloom.

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Once each stalk has completed is bloom I will cut the stalks off many of the plants. They often rebloom on new flower stalks later in the season. I’ll leave the healthiest stalks in each color (I never know when pale pink or white blooms will show, the plant may bloom in any of the shades shown). Each stalk will set seed that will mature the following year.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA As a biennial, digitalis purpurea grows only leaves in year one. The second year it flowers and sets seed. The photo on the right is of first year plants last autumn. Every year since I first purchased a couple of small foxglove plants I’ve had year one and year two specimens throughout my gardens. Those that self-sow in less desirable spots are moved to preferred locations in the cool temperatures of September or April/May. Preferred locations in highly visible beds are usually near the rear of the bed where the maturing flower stalks will be less obvious.

Since digitalis purpurea is poisonous, deer and other creatures leave them be. But use caution, all parts of digitalis are poisonous to pets and children. Digitalis is also invasive in some western U.S. states.

The plant family is extremely valuable as the source of the cardiac medicine by the same name. Here’s some digitalis history.

If you love the look of foxglove and want to give it a try, You Can Grow That!

You Can Grow That! is a blog meme, on the fourth of each month, started by C.L. Fornari at Whole Life Gardening to remind everyone that gardening is good for people. Gardening enriches our senses, our food, and our health. Gardening fosters friendship and increases ones appreciation of nature. Read more You Can Grow That! posts by visiting Whole Life Gardening.

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7 comments for “A foxglove garden, You Can Grow That!

  1. June 6, 2012 at 11:42 am

    Joene,

    What a breathtaking sight! Isn’t Nature the best natural gardener? I’ve never grown it because I have cats, and also because it is so invasive. But I do enjoy your lovely pictures and information.

    • June 6, 2012 at 1:57 pm

      Glad you like my foxglove garden, Benita. I added the link to the invasive map specifically because foxglove is invasive in your neck of the woods. I’d hate for an inexperienced gardener to try to plant some anywhere they are invasive. Foxglove are easily controlled in Connecticut. Many gardeners cannot stand the look of the spent flower stalks so foxglove never get the chance to self-sow.

  2. June 6, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    This is a wonderful flower and I love using them for cottage gardens and woodland landscape designs. There are also some less common perennial types. Nice pix, Joene!

    • June 6, 2012 at 1:59 pm

      Jane, I have yet to plant any of the perennial foxglove, but they are on my wish list for my gardens accessible to deer. Glad you enjoyed the photos.

  3. June 6, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    Foxglove is one of my favorite bloomers, and I often plant them and get a bonus the next year of more. However, that seems to be the extent of it. I never really shake the seeds, but instead allow them to take care of themselves. Perhaps I should because I would love having them every year.

    • June 7, 2012 at 8:29 am

      Sage Butterfly, I spread ripe seeds from cut stalks to areas I want more foxglove. If the seed takes, great. If not, I have ample self-sown seedlings that can be transplanted to desired locations. Give this a try and let me know how it works for you.

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