About Foxglove: Foxglove grows as a wildflower in Great Britain and throughout Europe, and can be found in records dating back to the time of Edward III of England. Historically, its common name was “Folksglove” in reference to the little folk, or fairies; these flowers often grew in the deep dells and glades of the forest where the fairies were said to live. One legend states that naughty sprites would give the fox the blossoms of this plant to wear on his feet, to quiet his step among the farmyards. Dr. William Withering first brought foxglove to the attention of the medical world in 1785, detailing its use in an important document that helped begin the modern pharmacology movement. This plant produces digitoxin, a substance included in the heart stimulating drug digitalis. The name Digitalis, also the genus name of the species, comes from the Latin word for finger and refers to the shape of the foxglove blossom.
Foxglove Germination: Direct sow in spring after the last frost, mixing the fine seed with sand in order to distribute it evenly. Cover it very thinly by scattering soil on top, and water lightly to avoid disturbing the seeds. Germination should take place within 3-4 weeks with a soil temperature of 65-70 degrees F. Thin or transplant seedlings to 10-12” apart. This plant prefers light, moist soil and partial shade but can tolerate full sun with adequate moisture.
Growing Foxglove Seeds: This plant prefers consistently moist soil that drains well, since soggy soil can cause disease. Water well especially in dry periods; a layer of mulch may help conserve moisture. In its first year of growth, foxglove will develop a low rosette of thick leaves; the flowering stalk will come in the second year. If the foliage becomes infected with powdery mildew or leaf spot, begin treatment immediately since this can damage the entire plant; either remove the infected leaves or apply a safe fungicide. Insects such as aphids, slugs, and Japanese beetles also tend to target this plant. Since a single plant can produce up to two million seeds, they will firmly establish themselves as perennials and can be rather invasive if left to themselves. The wilted flower stalks can be removed to prevent this, or the young seedlings can easily be transplanted elsewhere. This plant makes an excellent background plant because of its height, and attracts bees and hummingbirds as well as resisting deer and rabbits.
Harvesting Foxglove: For fresh flowers, cut long stems of flowers that have just opened and place them in water immediately; strip the leaves that will fall below the water. Handle carefully, since this entire plant is poisonous to humans and animals and can be fatal if ingested.
Saving Foxglove Seeds: Watch the developing seed heads carefully, since they will split and release their seeds when fully ripe. As soon as the seed head can easily be opened to reveal ripe brown seed, it is ready to harvest. Remove the entire stalk or individual heads as they ripen, shaking out the seed. Store the cleaned seed in a cool, dry place.
Detailed Foxglove Info: Origin: Europe Other Common Names: Common Foxglove, Purple Foxglove, Finger Flower, Fairy Glove, Lady’s Glove, Fairy Thimbles Duration: Biennial Bloom Time: Summer Height: 48-60 inches Spacing: 18-24 inches Light: Full Sun to Woodland Soil Moisture: Medium USDA Zone: 4a-8b Seeds Per Oz: 300,000 Produces thick, textured leaves at the base and tall spikes of tubular, dangling 2-3” blossoms of rose pink or purple with tiny contrasting spots.