How to Grow Foxgloves

How to Grow Foxgloves in your cottage garden.  A stately plant that adds so much charm to your beds and borders in Spring. 

If you are looking for a unique flower to grow in your garden, then consider planting foxgloves!

Foxglove flowers are beautiful and have many different varieties. We will talk about how to plant them, what conditions they need, their benefits, and more.

This blog post is packed with information that will help you get the most out of your foxglove plants!

Look at any illustration of a cottage garden and you will see foxgloves. Growing foxgloves brings some height and delicate nature to your garden beds.

foxgloves in cottage garden bed

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One of my favorite flowers in a typical cottage garden is the Foxglove (Digitalis Purpurea).  

Heirloom foxgloves, digitalis plants, are biennial, meaning they sprout and grow one year then bloom the next, go to seed, spread their progeny around, and die off. 

These can grow to 5 feet or a wee bit taller if given the right conditions (aka great soil and water in dry weather).

Planting Foxgloves

Foxgloves are relatively easy to grow from seeds or young plants. They prefer well-draining, fertile soil that is rich in organic matter.

You can sow the seeds indoors in late winter, and then transplant them outdoors in spring, or sow them directly into the garden bed in the late spring or early summer.

When planting foxgloves, it’s important to choose a location that receives partial to full sunlight. These plants prefer a cool and moist environment, so it’s best to plant them in an area that is sheltered from strong winds and intense sunlight.

Growing Foxglove Flowers

  • Foxgloves prefer to grow in rich moist but well-drained soil. They do not like it too damp or too dry.
  • Plant them towards the back of the bed if growing the taller varieties or if planting island beds plant them in the center.
  • If you live in a windy locale you may wish to stake them.
  • In areas with hot summers plant where they will get some afternoon shade.    I live in zone 8 and summers get into the 90’s F but we have tall trees that provide shade part of the day.
  • If you have a foxglove come up where you do not wish it they do transplant easily, just dig down deep and get all the root.  Do this while it is cooler so they can get a good root system going before hot weather sets in.
  • Plant foxglove seeds directly in the garden in late Summer and Fall.  You can also start them in Spring but with the old-fashioned ones you won’t get flowers until the next year.  
  • Sow them inside in pots and plant them out when they get to be sturdy and strong, about 3 or 4 inches tall.

Care and Maintenance:

Once your foxgloves have been planted, they require minimal care and maintenance. However, here are a few tips to help you ensure that your foxgloves thrive:

  1. Watering: Foxgloves require regular watering, especially during dry periods. It’s important to keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged.
  2. Fertilizing: Foxgloves do not require heavy fertilization. A light application of compost or a balanced fertilizer once a year is sufficient.
  3. Deadheading: Deadheading spent flowers will encourage new growth and prolong the blooming season.
  4. Pruning: Once the flowering season is over, cut back the spent flower stalks to prevent the plant from self-seeding.
    I like that they self-seed and show you how I spread them around in this post.
  5. Mulching: Applying a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plant will help retain moisture and suppress weeds.

In conclusion, growing foxgloves is a rewarding experience that adds a touch of elegance and beauty to any garden or landscape. With the right planting location, proper care, and maintenance, your foxgloves will flourish and provide you with years of enjoyment. So, go ahead and add these stunning plants to your garden today!

Can you buy Foxgloves at garden centers?

Yes, but most Foxgloves you buy at garden centers are a hybrid called Foxy mix, which is produced to bloom the first year from seed.

Foxy foxgloves get only about 3 feet tall, they behave more like an annual.

So if you are looking for the statuesque beauties seen in Tasha Tudor’s garden then they are not it.  But they are beautiful in their own right.

Growing foxgloves from seed open up many more options. There are plenty of new Foxglove hybrids available with different attributes.

How to Grow Foxgloves, (19 of 27)

 Swallowtail seeds carry quite a few different ones.  I have grown Pam’s Choice (I don’t see this one in their catalog this year but Pantaloons is a sport of it).

And Strawberry, a beautiful pink Foxglove (this one stays short and is extra fuzzy)

How to Grow Fabulous Foxgloves, Strawberry hybrid,

Perennial foxgloves?

While the original wildflower is a biennial, many of its recent descendants are perennials, making it easier than ever to have elegant Foxglove blooms in the garden, year after year.

They have a new type of perennial Foxgloves called the PolkaDot series that hold their blooms longer so you have more time to enjoy them in the garden as they don’t set seed.

Some sports of tried and true heirlooms don’t thrive as well as the oldie but goodies so I always have a few of the heirlooms to keep my garden full of what I love.

(I still have them mostly because they just don’t quit, a quality that keeps cottage gardens lush and full)

Purple Foxglove

how to grow foxgloves for a height in your cottage garden

Excelsior series sounds close to the heirloom type, being tall and one that I am going to definitely get for my garden.

Yes, Foxglove leaves are poisonous but they are not alone

To those ready to jump in and inform me that Foxgloves are poisonous, that is very true, but so is a lot of different flowers and plants, some may even surprise you.

Here are 10 common plants in the cottage garden that are just as toxic as Foxgloves if ingested.  For a more in-depth look at toxic plants in your garden you can read that here: IS YOUR FLOWER GARDEN DANGEROUS?

There are many more that I could add.  Am I saying you should not be concerned? 

No, I am not but you should educate yourself before planting anything in your garden if you are worried about toxicity for kids or pets.

For my part, I have raised 4 kids and tons of different pets along with growing all of the listed plants above with no trouble at all.

how to grow foxgloves for a height in your cottage garden

Foxglove Seeds…How to Plant

I grow some Foxgloves from seeds using the method I told you about here..How to Start Seeds for a Beautiful Garden and just barely press them into the soil.

I also direct sow them in the ground in late Fall or early Spring.

want to know more?

Different ways to plant foxglove from seed!

When the foxgloves begin to go to seed you can direct sow them back into your garden.  

I love getting different colors and varieties, and they typically cross-pollinate so in the following years I never know what to expect.

How to Grow Foxgloves,

This one below was a special surprise this past season, pink on the outside and a creamy yellow with burgundy spots on the inside.

How to grow foxgloves,

One of my favorites is called Candy Mountain.  If you haven’t noticed, Foxgloves have a tendency to put most of the blossoms on one side, but Candy Mountain has blooms all around the stalk for a glorious view from every side. 

For some reason I have no photo of it in full bloom but here is one just getting started.  You will also note that the flowers stick straight out instead of draping downward.

How to Grow Foxgloves, (9 of 27)

A creamy-colored one.

How to grow foxgloves,

In some seasons I have many more come up than others, it could be weather conditions (we have been in a drought for 3 or 4 years now), or just their cycle.  2013 was a boon year where I had a jungle of foxgloves coming up everywhere.

How to Grow Foxgloves, (4 of 27)

And then last summer I had much less though still plenty to enjoy.

How to Grow Foxgloves, (1 of 27)
How to grow Foxgloves in your Cottage Garden,

This year, we shall see. I have a large patch of volunteers right in front of my studio cottage that needs to be moved and the way the weather is staying on the warm and sunny side I should do it soon or it will be too late to transplant them successfully.

Another plus is the deer don’t usually like them at all and neither do rabbits.

What do you do with foxgloves after they bloom?

Deadhead spent blooms after flowering to encourage a second flush or let them self-seed over the garden. Biennial types can be dug up after they have set seed, but perennial foxgloves should be cut back for autumn, ready to bloom again the following year.

So no matter what you decide to grow, the heirlooms or a hybrid, you are sure to love growing Foxgloves in your Cottage Garden.

Happy Gardening…now to learn to paint them well…

More Growing Info I know you will love!

How to Grow Foxgloves

White and pink foxgloves growing at Flower Patch Farmhouse

How to Grow Foxgloves in your Garden

Prep Time 5 minutes
Active Time 5 minutes
Additional Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes


  • Foxglove seeds


  • Trowel or other digging tool


Direct sowing: Spread seeds on rich well-draining soil. In many locations, this is best done in late Fall Early Spring. (see this post for a step by step)

Keep soil moist when germinating and during the growing season, adding mulch is helpful.

Foxgloves like cooler temperatures so planting them where they get afternoon shade is recommended in hotter climates.

Some Foxglove varieties are bred to bloom the first year, Dalmatian Mix is one of those varieties along with Camelot.

Deadhead as blooms fade to encourage a small rebloom. Let seeds fall to the ground if you want it to self seed or Collect the Seeds.

Inside growing:

Sow foxglove seed in cell packs or flats, press into soil, do not cover. Light aids germination. Kept at 65-75° F., germination is in 14-21 days. Transplant seedlings into the garden 18-24 in. apart after danger of frost. Though I have found they are pretty tough and can withstand a light frost.


Foxgloves are poisonous and should be handled with care. They are deer resistant.

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How to Grow Foxgloves, a favorite cottage garden flower that adds height to your borders and beds.

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  1. I can’t grow foxglove to save my life. Maybe it just doesn’t like our soil but I have failed miserably at it. I am having my soil tested this year so that may give me a clue as to why they don’t like it.

    1. It is so true that area can play a big part. When I lived in the San Joaquin valley I could not grow (successfully) many of the flowers I love to grow here. But the reverse is true, I could grow so many things there that I can’t here. Though I have found that growing the old varieties can work when many of the hybrids won’t. Great plan to have your soil tested. It will probably reveal so much and help to improve your already green thumb.

    2. You should try the yellow foxglove. They come up year after year for me. I don’t think they are “fussy” like the ones in this article.

    3. Don’t give up. I planted those beautiful plants from garden centers for years before I found out that they are poor selections unless you want to treat them as annuals. There years ago I planted seeds and they are doing fine.

      1. Thanks for chiming in here on the Foxgloves. I have only grown the ones from seed so I did not know that about the nursery plants. Good to know.

    4. Ted stanwood says:

      Foxglove here is a real PIA since we have a few hundred acres of pasture. Pulling the stuff gets some of them, but we have to pull the rootballs and burn them or they will roll over and replant themselves.
      We tried field burning, that seems to activate the seeds.
      Roundup sadly kills everything, we want to save the grass for grazing. So, it’s 2-4D.
      They really ARE easy to grow, the hard part is stopping the things.

  2. Foxgloves are my all time and forever perennials. I will order what you suggested for the village gardens and I can’t wait to see if they make it. I love this post with its gorgeous photographs and information that is right on for my interests!

  3. I love Foxglove! Yours are beautiful!
    Every year I plant some and often nothing happens….now I’ve heard that they are not so happy with clay soil, and although I do amend and feed and water….they are a puny…and disappointing.
    I do have a couple that are successful though and will keep up the care…maybe next year there will be more. I envy that you can use seed so freely…..

    1. They do like a nice loose soil so the clay could be your issue. They like plenty of water but not sitting in it for long so well draining soil is a must. You climate can play a part as well. We enjoy a mild climate year round. We get snow and cold in winter but not to the extreme, summers are not overly hot and we cool down at night even then. We don’t typically get rain in summer so irrigating is a must. I wish you success with your foxgloves.

      1. We here in Minnesota have clay in our soil too, so that’s probably why I have trouble growing foxgloves, etc. We are zone 3 and really close to zone 2, so that’s an issue too. I do love what I can grow!! Pamela, thanks for all your tips!!

  4. I miss the foxgloves that grew on our acreage! Now we are in a townhouse with a small garden. Maybe I will try growing one of the shorter varieties here. Thanks for the inspiration! I found you on Shabblicious.

    1. I think they are worth the effort. I wish you success in growing foxgloves!

  5. Hi there, wow – your flowers are so beautiful. I’m actually ready to try my luck with planting these around our home and a little scared I may mess something up. I have been looking all over trying to figure out when to start the seedlings and when to actually plant them outside. What have you done in the past? Thank you, Rose

    1. If you have an area all ready for them go ahead and seed them now. You will get plants but they won’t bloom until next Spring and Summer. Mine reseed themselves in late summer, when they are done blooming and have gone to seed. If I want a new area seeded I cut off the seed pod filled stock and gently carry it to the new location and shake the seeds out into the new area. If you want to start them indoors you can do so now. Once they are about 3 inches tall and look good and strong you can plant them out in the garden. Keep the seedlings shaded if at all possible, they won’t do well in hot sun when getting started. I hope this helps, just let me know if you need any other help.

  6. i love your garden and the ease at which so many of your seeds grow. I think I will try once again to enrich the soil. Since you use chicken manure I will try some of that if I can find some. Years ago we picked up a load of compost from a farm and it worked pretty well. Any suggestions on what kind of compost to use? They sell so many different kinds by the bag. I also tried your method of putting scraps in the blender but havent done it in months.

    1. Most of the time I make my own but the garden centers carry compost in bags. I also get some from a local winery that has been made at a local organic turkey farm. It is pricier but it is so wonderful! When I lived in the San Joaquin valley the local dump had an area that they composted yard waste and sold the compost. I have heard pros and cons on that but it worked for me. There is yard waste disposal places here too and I have gotten some from them but they are a small mom and pop operation and sometimes I can’t get through to them.

  7. Norma Rolader says:

    I love foxgloves so hard to grow for me maybe our soil here in Georgia or they just do not like me!! LOL!! But I am determined to continue to try God bless and thank you

    1. They do like the cool winters, maybe try one that is bred for warmer climes. I am assuming your part of Georgia is warmer than my mountain area but I am not sure.

  8. Hi, thanks for this post, pin or whatever. I love foxgloves and Lily of the valley along with many many other plants. I have 2 boys and teach them all about plants along with other things in the world. That’s what OUR job as parents are. I think a lot of people just depend on someone else to educate their kids and then blame anyone when something happens. Like you said their are dangerous things all around us. But a lot of the deadly things we use for positive things foxgloves are used to make life saving heart medicine. Some snake venom is used for medication as well. Everything is balanced when used responsibly. Thanks again for your post about foxgloves here and other poisonous plants.

  9. Hello! Your flowers are so beautiful! I want to plant foxgloves but I’m really confused if I should sow them directly in the ground (Fall or summer?) or start them inside. I live in zone 6a in New Hampshire by the coast if that matters. There’s a lot of conflicting information online and I want to make sure I do it correctly to get the best results. Thank you!!

    1. I have the best success seeding them directly in the ground in the late Summer and Fall. Do a test patch and seed half of the seeds you have in Fall then seed the rest in early Spring and see which works best for you.

  10. Zack Scott says:

    Being a poisonous plant is an excellent show of tenacity to exist. Plants cannot run or defend themselves by displaying force. They must more passive means of protecting their biology. Existence is established and maintained by boundaries and the ceasing of boundaries marks the dissolution of form.

    Coffee, contains caffeine which is a poison to chewing insects but also attracts bees to the flower from the nectar. Even citrus trees contain some caffeine in the nectar of flowers.

    Chilies produce capsaicin as a defense mechanism for fungal pathogens.

  11. Sam Silva says:

    Absolutely gorgeous. Going to try out foxgloves for the first time this fall. Can you recommend a couple of tall varieties that are perennials and will reseed please.

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