The towering foxglove is a wonderful back-of-the-boarder plant. It has tall spires with tubular flowers which start opening from the bottom up. Digitalis is the botanical name for this tall plant found naturally growing on the edge of woods, by streams and in every cottage garden. All right, not naturally so much in the cottage garden but that is where it belongs as it is a favorite there. Depending on variety the foxglove can grow from 2- 8 feet tall. Most foxgloves are biennial but there have been some short-lived perennial cultivars developed in recent years.
I remember a friend complaining that she often dug up the foxgloves growing by her stream at the edge of the woods and then planted them most carefully in her garden never to have them return. “What’s up with that?” she asked me.
I smiled indulgently and told her it was biennial and then I had to explain what that is. A biennial is just an annual that takes two years instead of one to complete its mission in life which is to produce seeds for future generations. The first year you plant the seeds the plants will grow but will not likely bloom. The second year it will flower and if you don’t cut off the dead flowers it will go to seed. If left alone the foxglove is a prolific self-sower. I find this to be a great thing since I like them so much. Others who don’t can just be diligent about dead-heading to solve the problem (?) of over abundance.
If you plant the seeds of biennials two years in a row you should always have a constant supply of flowers instead of only every other year. Problem solved. There, of course, are tricks to get biennials to bloom within a year. Would you like me to tell you? I thought so. If you plant the foxglove seed, or any biennial, in the mid to late summer, let the baby plants winter over with a nice thick covering of dry leaves or branches from your Christmas tree and then uncover them in early spring you’ll most likely get them to flower by late spring or at least by summer. You just cut bloom time to a year. Nice, huh? I learned that totally by accident. I love it when I do that.
The foxglove has long leaves in a grayish green color with a slightly fuzzy texture. The flowers come in a large array of colors red, purple, cream, yellow, white and many pastels with most being prettily bi-colored. Pink blossoms with yellow throats, white flowers with pink markings, yellow blooms with white throats and purple spots are just some of the enticing color combos