Foxglove is one of the most striking spring and summertime blooms. The plant's vibrant, towering spikes have drama to spare: They're laden with hollow, pendulous flowers that rise from the garden, creating visual interest with their height, colors, and forms. Foxgloves are a hallmark of cottage gardens , and they're a perfect long-flowering bloom for backyard gardens throughout the South.
Learn about this European native flower that will surely add charm and drama to your landscape.
Foxglove's Shape and Colors
Common foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) is a member of the family Plantaginaceae. These plants are perennials or biennials that bloom in summer, colorful oases for the eyes amid the sweltering heat of the season. During the flowering months, delicate, brightly colored, tubular blooms appear on tall flower spikes that can reliably grow to reach four to five feet in height (or more), with some reaching even higher heights in optimal conditions. The blooms themselves grow to be two to three inches long. The various varieties of foxgloves flower in a rainbow of colors, including red, pink, yellow, white, and purple. In most instances, the interiors of the tubular flowers are speckled with a darker, contrasting color.
Foxglove Selections by Height
Foxgloves are grown for their height, and selections are wide-ranging. On the shorter spectrum, 'Foxlight' are pink and orange foxgloves from The Southern Living Plant Collection that grows to just about one foot tall. 'Foxy,' an annual that blooms within months of planting, is three feet; Popular selections of foxgloves in the four-foot range at maturity include 'Alba' (white flowers with brown spots), 'Apricot Beauty' (pale peach blooms), and 'Gloxiniiflora,' which produces big, open-mouthed flowers. Reaching 6 feet is 'Giant Shirley,' which blooms in a range of hues.
According to The New Southern Living Garden Book , "Of all the flowering plants with spike-like blooms, foxgloves are perhaps the easiest to grow." Foxgloves like full sun to partial shade with regular water and need moist, rich, well-drained soil. In the South, they thrive in USDA zones six to nine. These flowers attract hummingbirds and bees, and they are deer resistant.
Ways to Plant Foxglove
Use foxglove's height as plantings in the back of borders, in a mass on their own, or as a thriller in containers.
When to Plant Foxglove
Most common foxgloves are biennials—plant in spring a year ahead, they'll bloom in the second year, and tend to reseed freely—or short-lived perennials that may last a year or two. "In most places, they'll live for one or two years. To ensure beautiful flowers every spring, set out new transplants each year in early summer or autumn," advises The New Southern Living Garden Book .
If you grow foxgloves in your garden, just remember: All parts of the plant are poisonous if ingested, so you can look, but don't eat!
If foxglove is not the most gorgeous summertime bloom, then it's certainly one of them. Do you grow foxgloves in your garden?