Foxgloves are one of those fabulous plants which look great in the garden, work in difficult shady areas to provide colour and are vital in providing nectar-rich towers of food for long-tongued bees.
Reaching a height of 1.5 to 2 metres, Foxgloves, are great statuesque plants which will add strong vertical interest to the middle and back of borders.
What makes the profusion of flowers on a Foxglove so interesting is that they unfurl from the bottom of the flower spike first, then work their way up opening to the top of the tower. Each spire of flowers can produce up to eighty individual blooms and while they can be admired from afar, getting up close and personal with the blooms really allows you to see the intricate speckles inside many varieties.
Foxgloves prefer to be planted in a partly shaded area which allows a great boost of white, pink and purple shades of colours to be added to areas which often are harder to manage. They prefer the soil to be moist but not water-logged and apart from that, Foxgloves are really low maintenance, hardy plants.
Foxgloves generally flower from June to August and are biennial plants which means they grow a basal rossette of green leaves in the first year and then send up the statuesque flowers spires in the second year. These then set seed and die but if you let them, they will freely self-seed all around to start the process again. Foxgloves are profuse self-seeders so you can end up with loads of flowers for free if you allow them to self-seed. To plug the gap between the flowering years of Foxgloves, there is some advice in the article Fabulous Foxgloves.
The tubular shaped blooms of the Foxglove are vital in supporting pollinators and in particular, they are suited to long-tongued bees, providing a tower of nectar-rich food.
The common Foxglove as we know it, or Digitalis Purpurea to call it by its proper name, is know in different parts of the country by different names. The Latin name ‘Digitalis’ means ‘finger-like’, and the shape of the blooms is certainly what has given rise to such a wide variety of common names for Digitalis Purpurea. So if you hear a plant referred to as fairy fingers, goblin’s gloves, cow flap, fairy cap, ladies’ thimble, fairy gloves, monikers, dog’s lug, fairy bells, dead man’s bells, witches’ fingers, lustmore or fairy’s petticoat, they will all be names for the common Foxglove. What do you call this fabulous towering plant where you live?