About Foxgloves


The colorful foxglove is a beautiful and dramatic plant that is easy to grow, but it is not for everyone. Foxgloves have a hidden danger, and care needs to be taken if you want to add them to the garden.


  • Foxgloves come is a wide variety of colors--white, yellow, pink, rose, red, lavender and purple. Foxgloves grow anywhere from 2 to 6 feet high with spikes. Foxgloves may be biannual, meaning they have a lifespan of 2 years, or perennial because they self seed well. When the 1st plant dies back, there will be others to take its place. The flowers are about the size of a thimble and, in most varieties, grow on 1 side of the stalk and face downward.


  • There are many varieties of foxglove, including the common foxglove which can grow as tall as 5 feet. The "Shirley" selection produces flowers in pastel colors; "Foxy" grows to about 3 feet; "Excelsior" is one with flowers on all sides that face outward; and "Alba" is white or cream colored. Other selections include "Rusty," which grows as tall as 6 feet; "Yellow" which grows to 3 feet and has honey-colored flowers; and "Merton" which grows to 3 feet with deep-red flowers.


  • Foxglove can be grown in most regions of the United States (with the exceptions of the far north, Florida and the Gulf Coast). They like well-drained but moist soil and a good layer of mulch. Start the seeds inside and when they are ready, plant them 15 to 18 inches apart. Some varieties can be divided into more than 1 plant. Make sure to divide them every 3 or 4 years to prevent overcrowding.


  • Most foxgloves are used as background plants in gardens because of their height. Also a shade-loving plant, foxgloves are perfect for under trees and in wooded areas. It is also grown commercially and is the source of heart medications like digoxin and digitoxin.


  • Foxgloves, both the flowers and the leaves, are highly toxic. They should not be planted anywhere a child or animal can get to it. The digitalis that the Foxglove produces is the culprit. The symptoms include hives and rashes that progress to a sore and swollen throat, even pneumonia. Eating the leaves can be fatal as well.

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