How To Grow Foxglove (Care Guide With 7 Crucial Considerations)

If you’re looking for an easy-to-grow plant for your garden, I wholeheartedly recommend foxgloves. These tall plants develop a beautiful bloom, and aside from deadheading them and propagating them, they require very little attention.

This makes them perfect for beginner gardeners, but there are still a few questions to be answered.

In this article, I’ll explain, in great detail, exactly how foxgloves work (and how they don’t work), how to stay safe from their toxic effects, and how to ensure you see a full bloom next year too.

Let’s dive in!

1. Foxglove Water & Lighting Requirements

Foxgloves bloom best when they get plenty of water and sunlight, but you shouldn’t overdo it in either of those departments. If you live in a hot area, your foxgloves will do well with some shade in the afternoon.

If your climate is cool, then feel free to leave them out in the sun for the entire day.

A similar rule applies to watering. You should water your foxgloves weekly – the soil should always be moist, but never soggy. Foxgloves are prone to root rot if they’re left stranded in wet soil.

If you’re going through a particularly dry period, feel free to water them more than once a week. The opposite of that applies too – if it’s particularly rainy, you shouldn’t water them at all.

When you’re watering, make sure to water the soil only, not the leaves and flowers, as fungi thrive in wet foliage.

Foxgloves are relatively low-maintenance plants that spread easily without anyone caring for them, so you don’t have to fear that the plants will die if you don’t stick to a strict water schedule.

2. Soil & Fertilization

Foxgloves do great in well-draining soil, and you don’t have to worry about fertilization either. These plants are aggressive growers and there’s no need to fertilize them unless your soil lacks nutrients.

What you should do is add a thin layer of mulch every spring – not only will the mulch release nutrients into the soil as it decomposes, but it will also help with water retention.

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3. Deadheading Foxgloves

Depending on the climate, foxgloves bloom in late spring or the summer. Once their bloom comes to an end, you should deadhead them to prevent self-seeding and aggressive spreading of the plant.

You can also extend the bloom period by deadheading them – when you cut off the flowers, foxgloves will often just regrow them.

Deadheading should be done when you see the flowers start to droop.

4. Are Foxgloves Toxic?

Yes, foxgloves are very toxic, and they’re actually some of the more dangerous plants to have around. Unlike most toxic plants, which need to be ingested for the poison to have effect, foxglove poison can be absorbed through the skin.

This is why it’s always recommended to wear gloves when you’re working with foxgloves.

If ingested in small quantities, the toxin – called digoxin, can have no effect, or it can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, and dizziness.

In larger quantities, it can cause seizures, dangerous heartbeat irregularities, delirium, weakness, and even death.

Because of their size and their curiosity, pets are much more easily poisoned than adult humans. Rabbits and deer, for example, which are known to feed on many flowering plants, avoid foxgloves because of their toxicity.

Interestingly, digoxin is one of the oldest medicines used for several heart conditions and it is still used today.

In case you or someone you know has ingested any part of the foxglove plant, look for professional medical help immediately.

5. Can Foxgloves Survive The Winter? (How To Propagate Them)

Foxgloves typically don’t bloom in their first season (although there are some varieties that do), and you need to protect them from harsh weather so they can bloom the following season.

Once the ground starts freezing, you should cover the plants with mulch to provide some insulation, but that mulch needs to be removed once the temperatures pick up.

In their second season, your foxgloves will bloom (depending on your deadheading, they’ll maybe bloom twice), and now is the time to propagate them again.

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To do this, you’ll have to collect the seeds, which form at the base of the flower after the blooming period has ended. Once you collect the seeds (wear gloves when you do this), you can throw away the old plants.

Most foxgloves are biennials, meaning that they have a two-year blooming and reproduction period. After those two years, the plant is, frankly, useless.

There are perennial species that bloom year after year, but most species are biennial. If you know you have a perennial foxglove species, you don’t have to propagate them.

Back to what I was saying – collect the seeds, throw away the old plant (in the trash, not on the compost pile – if there are any seeds you missed, they’ll grow out of the compost), and plant the seeds.

Sow the seeds as soon as you get them and plant the seedlings in your garden in late summer/early fall. They need to mature at least a little bit before winter arrives, otherwise they won’t survive it.

You can plant foxgloves in the soil immediately or sow them in containers and then replant them later. Either way – spread the seeds on the soil, but don’t cover them, as they need sunlight to germinate.

6. Common Foxglove Pests & Diseases

Because of their toxicity, foxgloves are impervious to larger pests, but damage can still be caused by fungi, aphids, thrips, and Japanese beetles.

You can minimize the chances of a fungal infection by providing good aeration and keeping the plant dry (water from the bottom), while the insects can be killed with weak insecticides.

Crown rot and root rot aren’t uncommon in foxgloves, and both of these conditions are usually caused by people. Root rot and crown rot are a consequence of overwatering – to avoid them, stick to a watering schedule and make sure you don’t drown your plant.

Given how easy foxgloves are to grow, in case one of your plants develops any serious illness, the easiest solution is to throw the plant away and plant a new one.

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7. Supporting Foxglove Growth

Foxgloves are tall, thin plants that can grow up to 6 feet. However, because of how thin they are, they can break when they reach such heights, which is why I recommend putting a stake next to the plant.

The stake will support the plant when it’s growing, and it’ll ensure it doesn’t break in half.

Also, space your foxgloves out when you’re planting them – not only will they look better, but they won’t get in each other’s way!

To Sum Up

Aside from deadheading them once the blooming period has finished (and replanting them if you want them in your garden next season), you don’t really have to do much to keep your foxgloves happy and healthy.

Water them once a week (provided it hasn’t been raining), add some mulch before the first frost, remove it in the spring add organic mulch to provide some nutrients, and make sure to plant them in a partly-shaded area.

That’s all there is to growing and caring for foxgloves. Oh, one last bit – make sure your family members know this plant is toxic, and try to keep pets away from it if possible!

Lucy Young

Meet Lucy, a seasoned gardener with a green thumb and a wealth of experience cultivated over 10 years in her own backyard oasis. Now, she channels her passion into writing, sharing invaluable gardening knowledge on her website. From nurturing plants to expert pruning techniques, Lucy's articles are a treasure trove for both seasoned enthusiasts and budding gardeners. Join her on this leafy journey as she sprinkles insights, tips, and tricks to help you create your own flourishing paradise. Get ready to dig into her gardening wisdom and unlock the secrets of a thriving garden!

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