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Foxgloves


by Adam Pasco

There's something really rewarding about cupping your hand under an old foxglove flower, tapping it gently and collecting the seeds that cascade out of it.


Foxglove seedsThere's something really rewarding about cupping your hand under an old foxglove flower, tapping it gently and collecting the seeds that cascade out of it.

It must be something like collecting coins from a slot machine when you've hit the jackpot. Not that I've ever had this good fortune, but when you're gardening, free seeds are always a jackpot.

Foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea) produce seeds by the thousand. A few years ago I planted several of them in my shady border, but since then they've self-seeded readily. Once they've flowered, the seed heads ripen and split, scattering their contents onto the soil below. I've rested pots of compost around them to catch the seed in the past, or it can just be collected by hand.

Freshly sown foxglove seeds germinate easily, like mustard and cress, so I always sow them straight away. Just sprinkle onto the surface of moist compost, and don't cover them. The seedlings are tiny, so let them grow to a manageable size before pricking them out.

Left to their own devices, it's surprising how far they spread. Foxglove seedlings pop up all over my garden each year, and I transplant most back to their original source in my shady border. Clearly they're eager to spread far and wide, and who could complain about that? They're a wonderful biennial, so are naturally short-lived, but lending a hand with their propagation ensures they'll be around to be enjoyed for many years to come.



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Gardeners' World Web User 01/01/2008 at 00:00

Gardeners' World Web User 28/07/2008 at 22:33

when is the best time of year to sow biennials such as digitalis, delphinium, and lupins

Gardeners' World Web User 29/07/2008 at 15:44

I'd sow foxgloves (digitalis) now, or you can also sow in March/April. Lupins are hardy perennials, and I'd sow in Feb/March if possible, as plants raised from early greenhouse sowings may flower in their first year. Otherwise lupins can be sown in April, growing plants on in pots for planting out during late summer or autumn. These will flower the next summer, and for many years to come.

Gardeners' World Web User 29/07/2008 at 19:34

This Spring I found Foxgloves suddenly growing up on the edge of my lawn. I dug them up and planted them into the boarders. They look lovely, so now I will be collecting the seeds and getting more plants for free.

Gardeners' World Web User 01/08/2008 at 15:08

I had the most wonderful display of roses this year and they are all looking a little sad and worse for wear now, with yellow leaves and now the flowers are over all rather straggly; can I prune these or do I have to wait until Autumn? Thanks.

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