How To Grow Foxgloves From Seed

A cluster of pink foxglove flowers

Foxgloves are both fascinating and productive types of flowering plants. They are easy to grow and can grace your garden with clusters of tubular-shaped flowers in various shades which results in the most magnificent display.

The foxglove plant is a biennial. They beautify every garden with their amazing, unique shades in spring and summer before annuals and perennials start to appear.

Biennial plants have a two-year growing period. They make roots and foliage in the first year and produce flowers, while in the second year they show off their amazing beauty before finally dying.

You can get foxglove plants readily available in garden centers near you. But you might want to consider growing them from seeds which will help you achieve a beautiful garden even if you’re on a tight budget as they are cheap and relatively easy to grow.

If you wish to enjoy the beauty of foxglove next year, you can start to sow the seeds in late summer. So let’s get to it! Here are a few essential points you should consider when growing foxglove from seeds.

Growing Foxgloves From Seed

How To Get Your Garden Ready

You’ll need:

  • Foxglove seeds
  • Garden spade
  • Hand fork
  • Rake
  • Bamboo cane
  • Watering can 

If you opt to grow foxglove from seeds, you first have to get your garden ready by selecting an ideal location that receives a full sun to a partial shade ratio. This should be easy depending on where the sun rises and sets in your backyard.

Foxgloves prefer nitrogen-rich, well-drained soil, adding compost, tilling the growing media, and the removal of any existing debris can be of great help.

Adding compost to your garden bed will not only provide adequate nutrients to the soil. It will also help improve soil aeration by making the soil loose and ideal in texture.

Growing Foxgloves From Seeds Indoors

Newly germinated foxglove seedlings in a green nursery tray
Image by:

It is best to grow foxgloves indoors at first, and then you can transplant them outside when frost is no longer a threat. You can also sow the seeds directly in the soil during the summer.

Here’s how to sow seeds indoors:

  • Start to sow the seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before the last frost.
  • Sprinkle them with seed-starting formula
  • Regularly check and maintain the soil moisture at 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Seeds will start to germinate after 14-21 days.

As soon as the seeds start to germinate, allow them to receive an adequate amount of sunlight by placing them on the sunny windowsill, or supplement them with artificial lights about 16 hours every day. 

Place them about 3-4 inches beneath the fluorescent light if you opt to supply the light they require. However, avoid using incandescent bulbs, as they will get too hot and can cause your newly germinated seedlings to possibly die.

Newly germinated seedlings do not necessarily need much fertilizer, but you can feed them with a starter solution when they are about 3-4 weeks old. (It is essential to follow the manufacturer’s feeding directions)

If you start to grow the seeds in small pots, it is best to re-pot the seedlings in a bigger container pot, so they have more room to develop and can establish strong roots.

Before planting your seedlings in the garden, allow your plants to be familiar with the outdoor conditions for a week by moving them to a covered area.

Make sure to protect them from the scorching sun during the day, and also when there’s a threat of possible frost at night.

Transplanting Into The Garden

Transplanting foxglove seedling into the garden
Image by:
  • Planting on cloudy days or in the late afternoon can help reduce the possibility of transplant shock.
  • Dig a hole large enough to accommodate the entire root ball of your plants that is approximately about 18 inches apart.
  • Carefully remove the plants from the pot and gently loosen the root ball to encourage proper root growth.
  • Place the seedling in the hole and fill with soil. Secure the seedling by pressing down your hand gently.
  • Toss a light layer of mulch on the top of the soil around the base of the plant about 2 inches deep to help retain the soil moisture and lessen possible weed growth.

Sowing Directly In The Garden

Sowing foxglove seeds directly into the garden
Image by:

If you opt to plant the foxglove seeds directly into your garden, here are a few tips on growing them successfully:

  • Foxgloves require sunlight to germinate, so if you opt to plant them straight into your garden, directly scatter them on the surface of the ground.
  • Gently rake the seeds into the soil, but avoid burying them deeply. Doing so will cause a fail of germination.
  • After sowing, water the garden bed thoroughly, and wait for about 20 to 30 days for the seeds to germinate.
  • Thin the seedlings when large enough to handle and allow a spacing of about 12-24 inches apart to prevent overcrowding.

Foxglove Growing Care Tips

Pink foxgloves with six unopened buds

  1. Weeds compete with plants for water, nutrients, and space. So, ensure to lay mulch around the plants to keep weeds away during the growing period.
  2. Mulches are also excellent in preserving soil moisture and keeping the soil temperatures. Some organic mulches like shredded bark and dried leaves, provide a naturally pleasing look to your garden bed. However, you have to keep mulches off from the plant’s stems to prevent possible rotting.
  3. It is necessary to water the plants properly, particularly at the start of their growing period. Watering thoroughly at least once a week is sufficient enough to help new roots establish fully.
  4. Water early in the morning, ensuring the soil will maintain the moisture 1-inch below the surface until afternoon. You can quickly check them using the soil- finger test and see if you need to water more during the day.
  5. Foxgloves that are grown indoors need good air circulation, while those grown outdoors require protection from the scorching sun and extreme winds during the day.
  6. Staking isn’t necessary unless your garden is regularly exposed to extreme winds.
  7. You have to remove excess mulches when new growth starts to appear in spring.
  8. After the first flowering in the early perennial, it is essential to cut back the faded flower stems to the ground level. Feed them with some fertilizers to encourage a second flush of flowers.
  9. To encourage foxglove to grow as perennials, you have to cut the spikes off at ground level before the head seeds develop.

Foxglove Toxicity

Foxgloves, although are beautiful with their trumpet-like blossoms, contain a poison called cardiac glycoside toxins which affects the heart muscle, making it poisonous to both humans and animals, particularly dogs and cats.

Foxglove cut-flowers can last approximately five days in freshwater, but all parts of the plants are toxic, so even the water in the vase used to display cut flowers can cause toxicosis, an illness caused by its poison.

The poison can make the heart pump harder and can cause heart irregularity making the heart rate slow down, which is both dangerous and life-threatening.

However, the degree of poisoning varies on the amount ingested on the particular part of the plant.

This type of plant is one of the reasons you have to watch your children and pets closely when playing outdoors.

In addition to that, it is not appropriate to prepare your herbal medicines or food from plants growing in your garden, unless you are 100% certain on the plants and you know how to do so safely.

Recap: The leaves of foxgloves are highly poisonous when ingested, so it is best not to grow them where your children and pets may have a chance of associating with them.

Growing Foxglove In Container Pots

Pink foxgloves in three black pots
Image by:

Foxgloves can be grown in container pots as long as it receives the proper amount of sunlight, adequate water, and care.

  • If you are considering growing foxgloves in containers, get a larger pot that is at least 16 inches in diameter with a few drainage holes in its base.
  • Plant the foxglove seedlings deep enough to cover the entire plant’s root ball.
  • Toss about 2 inches of mulch around the base of the plants, but not on the stem itself. The mulch will help retain the soil moisture. Secure the plant by pressing the potting soil gently.
  • Let your foxglove plant receive about three to six hours of sunlight every day, or place on a windowsill facing North or South.
  • If you opt to keep them inside, ensure the room temperature is maintained between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Foxglove plants require watering about twice a week to keep the soil moist but not soaking wet.
  • Check the soil regularly at about 2 inches deep before watering. If you find them dry at that depth, this will indicate that you need to water them.
  • Tie a stake a few inches from the base of your plants. It will act as a support stick, particularly if you place them in your terrace garden where strong wind blows regularly.
  • Cut the wilted spike back to its base using the pruning shears after removing spent flowers individually.
  • If you find some aphids or mealybugs in the plants, you can spray them with insecticidal soap or hydrogen peroxide solutions once a week until the pests are all gone.

Pests And Diseases

Powdery-mildew on the foxglove leaves.

Foxglove is a versatile type of plant but is also susceptible to various diseases like powdery mildew due to over-watering and crowded garden spaces. Here are a few common problems:

  • Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew forms in dusty white patches and you will find them on the upper or lower foliage of your foxgloves, which causes them to die and fall off.

Mildew usually appears in shady conditions where temperatures are only 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Bacteria develops and spreads the infection as they drift to the other plants when the wind blows.

How to prevent this:

To prevent powdery mildew from developing in your plants, let your foxgloves receive an adequate amount of sunlight. Bring them outside to receive sunlight if you are growing them indoors. Sunlight is key!

Also, splashing the leaves with water will help eradicate powdery mildew as spores die in water.

Over-fertilization also encourages the development of powdery mildew. Feed just the right amount of fertilizer to provide nutrients around the plants. Always check and apply products according to the package instructions.

  • Aphids and Mealybugs

Both aphids and mealybugs feed on plant sap in clusters on foxglove stems and leaves. In small numbers, they won’t cause much damage to the plants. However, in large composites, they can damage leaves and slow the plant’s growth.

How to prevent this:

Frequently checking the plants will help prevent the problem of mealybugs and aphids. By looking into the plant’s nook and crannies, you will find these insects and able to wash them off with water.

You can pick them off by hand too, or snip off damaged leaves with the use of pruning shears. (Don’t forget to disinfect your pruning shears afterward to prevent the spread of infection when you use the tool on other plants)

The use of a hydrogen peroxide solution is also an excellent alternative spray to eliminate other diseases like Japanese beetles and leaf spots.

Overall, the best way to prevent these issues is to give your foxglove plants the right amount of water and sunlight they need.

Using a soaker hose will lessen the possibility of plants drowning every time you find the soil in your garden is dry. Also, provide spacing at least 12 inches apart to achieve better air circulation.

Final Thoughts On How To Grow Foxgloves From Seeds

Foxgloves are sure to be on your list if you dream of an old fashioned, romantic garden. The spikes of bell-shaped flowers will highlight the elegant atmosphere of your garden. Let’s go over a recap before you begin to add this tremendous garden piece to your backyard.

Foxgloves usually range in height from 3-5 feet and come in beautiful shades of purple, pink, cream, yellow, white and red.

They are often planted together with acid-loving plants. Most foxgloves varieties are hardy in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4 to 9.

When considering planting in your garden, make sure to place them anywhere that is not accessible by your pets and children. Foxglove leaves are highly toxic and can cause possible death when ingested.

Sow foxgloves in the fall or spring if you opt to grow them from seeds directly in your garden or allow them to germinate first in a nursery tray after the last frost before transplanting.

Take note of planting 12 inches apart to prevent possible diseases due to overcrowding. Foxgloves thrive in slightly acidic, well-draining soil, and prefer 3-6 hours of full sun to partial shade.

Since most foxglove varieties are biennials, they won’t produce flowers until the second year, particularly if you grow them from seeds.

This plant can also self-sow easily. If you leave the flowers to reach maturity and drop the seeds, they will grow and produce a new series of plants in the next growing season. The use of mulch will keep the soil moist and help lessen weed growth as the plants grow.

The use of staking is also useful, especially if you live in a windy climate, or if you opt to place the foxglove plants in your terrace garden. However, you have to tie the cotton strips loosely to avoid damaging the plant stalks.

Foxgloves can make an elegant cut flower arrangement. You can decorate them by cutting 12 to 18-inch stalks and arrange them beautifully with other flowers.

Pests and diseases that most foxgloves have are easy to contain with proper care. The use of a good soaker hose will help keep the leaves dry and also providing the right amount of space is imperative for proper air circulation. This will all help in preventing any pests and diseases.

That wraps up everything you need to know about foxgloves! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask below!

About Benita Abucejo

Hi there! My name is Benita Abucejo. What can I say? I truly love spending my days in the outdoors, specifically in the garden. Gardening has always been a strong passion of mine since I was a little girl. It has brought me so much joy and happiness that it is definitely safe to say that I will be a gardener for life. For a period of time, I was able to work with people who are into home gardening and I found it to be quite beneficial to my physical health, as well as my mental well-being. Here at Seasonal Preferences, I am going to share with you my experience and ideas so that you can fulfill yourself with the same satisfaction and happiness. Of course, if you have ideas, I would love to hear those as well! Being creative in the garden can really be quite fascinating so let's share our experiences and be the best gardeners we can be. With that being said, thank you for dropping by and please leave me a comment on one of my posts if you would like to get in touch!

View all posts by Benita Abucejo →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *