Are you looking for a cool season flowering herb that can literally give you heart palpitations? Foxglove is it! These short-lived perennials and biennials send up tall stalks of gorgeous flowers in an array of colors that will bring a beautiful accent to your flowerbed. All parts of foxglove plants are toxic, so they are resistant to most large animal pests. But on the flip side, foxglove will attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds to your garden. Foxglove is the original source of the heart medication digitalis, but current forms of the medication are synthetic. There is no need to ingest anything (and we recommend against it). Just seeing the amazing blooms will make your heart beat a little faster – Lub Dub Lub Dub Lub Dub.
Foxgloves can be grown from seed or by transplant. We carry the Gloxiniiflora Blend Foxglove in seed packets. These are heirloom biennials that bloom in the second season and will reseed. This blend is great for cut flowers and are best grown in part shade. The seeds can be sown outside 1-2 weeks after the last frost. They need light for germination, so gently press them into the soil and do not cover. Seeds should be kept moist. Seeds are best sown in soil that is amended with compost or worm castings (8-10 seeds every 12”to18”). They will emerge in 10-15 days and should be thinned when 2”tall. Current price is $1.69 for a 350mg packet.
Generally, we carry two varieties of foxglove for transplanting – Camelot and Foxy. Both varieties are considered short-lived perennials. Camelot foxglove will grow up to 3’ tall and 1’ wide with a 3’ to 4’ tall flower spike. Foxy will grow to 1’ tall and 1’ wide with 3’ bloom stalk. Both plants do best with 4-6 hours of morning sun. Be sure to amend your soil with compost before planting 12” to 16” apart. It is best to plant transplants from October to February. Even small transplants do not need protection from winter freezes. To keep these plants blooming through early summer, water regularly, fertilize with a good organic fertilizer like Microlife and cut off spent bloom stalks. When the summer heat gets to be too much, these plants may wither and die or they may hang on, but not flower. It just depends on how happy they are where they have been planted. The good news is that they will often reseed.
The Camelot foxglove variety is a little more heat-tolerant than the Foxy variety, but not by much. Camelot flowers can be strawberry, white, lavender and rose. Foxy flowers are cream, yellow, white and rose. Camelot flowers tend to grow on a thicker stalk and be a little more showy than Foxy. Most sources say you don’t need to stake the flower stalks, but I did have to stake the blooms in my garden last year because the temperatures got so hot so quickly. Though a hot summer will surely shorten the bloom time of your foxglove, they are still worth the effort to have them in your garden. Currently we have both Camelot and Foxy varieties in 4” containers. Plant some in your garden and let their blooms raise your heart rate, just a little anyway, through early summer.