Foxglove’s (Digitalis spp.) striking tall stalks of tubular blooms are early spring’s show stopper in the cottage garden and cut flower arrangements. Hummingbirds and bees also love these beautiful flowers. Learn how to grow foxglove (even if you live in a hot climate like the low desert of Arizona) and add these stunning flowers to your garden.
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How to Grow Foxglove: 7 Tips for Growing Foxglove
1. Try different varieties of foxglove
Common foxgloves are biennial, which means in the first year, foliage forms; in the second year, it blooms, beginning in the spring. If first-year blooms are desired, look for newer hybrid varieties that bloom in the first year.
Varieties to try:
Alba: Pure white flowers with 4-foot stalks.*
Apricot Beauty: Apricot-pink flowers with spotted interiors; 3-4 feet tall.*
*Floret Flower’s picks for cut flowers
2. Start foxglove seeds indoors or purchase transplants
In most areas, foxglove grows best from transplants. To help ensure blooms, approximately 3-4 weeks before starting seeds indoors, cold stratify the seeds by placing seeds in a jar or plastic bag filled with damp seed-starting mix or peat moss.
Start seeds indoors 10-12 weeks before planting outside. To plant seeds that have been cold stratified, fill the container with a seed-starting mixture and spread moist peat moss/seed mixture on the top of the container. Do not cover the seed as light is required for germination. Place under a humidity dome and provide light for 8-10 hours daily.
Once seedlings sprout, carefully transplant them into individual containers.
Flowers to Plant Outside & Seeds to Start Indoors Each Month in the Low Desert of Arizona.
• PLANTING GUIDE: Each month lists annual flowers and bulbs to plant outside & seeds to start indoors.
• BLOOMING GUIDE: Photos show what may be in bloom that month.
3. Plant foxglove outside in the fall
Plant seedlings in the garden at least 6 weeks before your first fall frost. The leaves will grow and then go dormant during the cold months of fall and winter. As temperatures warm in the spring, the plants will grow and bloom. Foxgloves are generally hardy to 30°F (-1°C).
4. Choose the best location for planting foxglove
Choose an area that receives plenty of sunlight.
In hot climate areas like the low desert of Arizona, partial sun with afternoon shade is preferred and will prolong bloom time in the spring.
The soil for foxgloves should be slightly acidic or neutral pH, have plenty of added compost, and be well-draining. Avoid wet soil in the winter.
Plant foxglove transplants at the same level as the nursery pot.
Space foxgloves 1-2 feet apart, depending on the variety. Foxglove blooms are typically quite tall (from 3-5 feet), so they are well-suited for the back of the planting area.
5. Care for foxglove as it grows
- Foxglove grows best in moist (not wet)soil; do not let them dry out.
- Mulch plants after planting.
- Add a thin layer of compost to the growing plants in the spring.
- Stake tall varieties.
- Deadhead the center stalk after flowering to encourage additional stalks later in the season.
- Remove spent blooms at the end of the season to limit self-sowing and increase their perennial tendencies, or leave blooms in place to encourage reseeding and attract birds.
6. Keep an eye out for pests and diseases on foxglove
Because all parts of foxglove are poisonous (use care with children and pets), it is deer and rabbit-resistant. Possible pests include aphids, Japanese beetles, mealy bugs, and thrips.
Foxglove is susceptible to different forms of root rot, wilt, blight, powdery mildew, and fungal diseases.
Reduce opportunities for disease by allowing good airflow between plants, not getting water on leaves, and planting in well-draining soil.
7. Foxglove cut flower tips
Foxglove blooms will last 6-8 days in a vase with a floral preservative.
For the longest vase life, harvest early when just a few bottom blossoms are open before bees pollinate the flowers. For more information about making flower arrangements from your garden, read this post.
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