Few flowers have as much magic and mystery associated with them as the foxglove. Tall and stately, these plants have long been used to create vertical interest in the garden. With stems reaching up to 1.8m(6ft) in height, depending on variety. The botanical name comes from the Latin ‘digitus’ meaning ‘finger’, a reference to the form of the flower.
A native of woodland clearings, the foxglove does well in partial or dappled shade and in full sun if the soil is moisture-retentive, providing impressive flower spikes in early summer. Usually regarded as biennial or short-lived perennial, it is easy to grow from seed and virtually problem-free. Caution: Toxic if eaten.
How to Sow and Grow Foxgloves
Foxgloves grow best in rich, well-draining soil and need either full sun or partial shade. Soil needs to be kept moist but not soggy. Sow outdoors in a seed bed, 0.5cm(1/4in) deep, directly into finely prepared soil which has already been watered. Seedlings appear in 21-35 days. Thin seedlings to 5cm(2in) apart when large enough to handle, keep moist and weed free. Plant out to flowering position in autumn, allowing 25cm(10in) between plants. Or sow indoors, 0.5cm(1/4in) deep, in a tray of compost. Water well and place in a cold frame, unheated greenhouse or on a warm kitchen windowsill. Keep moist. Transplant individually when large enough to handle to 8cm(3in) pots. (Hold seedlings by a leaf, never by the stem.) Gradually accustom young plants to outside conditions before planting out 25cm(10in) apart.