Best foxgloves to grow

Best foxgloves to grow

We pick some of our favourite foxglove (Digitalis) species and cultivars to grow.

Foxgloves are either biennial, producing a rosette of foliage in the first year followed by flowers in the second, or perennial, flowering every year.

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For structure they’re ideal. The taller species are great for adding height and interest by cutting through frothy, more loosely structured plants. Plus, many species are woodland natives so are happy grown in shady areas.

If you’re needing more reasons to grow them, grow them for bees – bumblebees in particular love stuffing themselves inside the tubular blooms to get at the pollen and nectar.

Gather ideas and inspiration on growing the different types of foxgloves with these foxglove planting combinations.

Check out our pick of the best foxgloves to grow.

The small-flowered foxglove, Digitalis parviflora, has gorgeous, smokey orange blooms.

Digitalis x mertonensis

Digitalis x mertonensis is commonly known as the strawberry foxglove, owing to the large, pink-red blooms. It’s a perennial species that will enjoy growing in moist, well-drained soil in full to partial shade.

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Digitalis parviflora

The small-flowered foxglove, Digitalis parviflora, has gorgeous, smokey orange blooms that are tightly packed in their masses on tapering stems. A hardy perennial species that is best grown in full sun or partial shade, in moist, well-drained soil.

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Digitalis grandiflora

This hardy perennial species has large, warm-yellow flowers and is thought to be the longest-lived perennial foxglove. Reaches around 80cm in height and makes a lovely cut flower. Grow Digitalis grandiflora in part shade in moist, well-drained soil.

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Digitalis purpurea subsp. heywoodii

We’ve highlighted this Iberian sub-species because there are several unusual cultivars with downy foliage and stems, like that of Stachys byzantina. Digitalis purpurea subsp. heywoodii cultivars to grow include ‘Silver Fox’ and ‘Silver Cub’.

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Digitalis obscura

Digitalis obscura, the sunset foxglove, is a perennial foxglove native to mountainous regions of Spain, so it’s more suited to sunny, dry borders than other foxgloves. A frost-hardy species that grows to around 1m tall.

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Digitalis canariensis

The Canary Island foxglove (Digitalis canariensis) is a shrubby, tender foxglove with blazing orange blooms and glossy, evergreen foliage. Looks right at home as part of an exotic border but will need protection from frost in winter.

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Digitalis ferruginea

This striking, elegant foxglove bears tightly packed, rusty orange flowers on tall stems, reaching 1.5m in height. A robust species, Digitalis ferruginea is tolerant of most spots, except soils that are excessively wet or dry. Combines well with purple-flowered plants.

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Digitalis lanata

Digitalis lanata goes by the rather exotic common name of Grecian foxglove. This short-lived perennial species has pale orange flowers, each with a prominent white lip. Grows to 60cm and enjoys a well-drained soil in full sun or part shade.

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Digitalis lutea

Commonly known as the small foxglove, Digitalis lutea is a delicate species with creamy-yellow flowers. A hardy perennial, it grows to around 60cm and enjoys a partially shaded spot in moist, well-drained soil.

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Digitalis purpurea

Last, but by no means least, Digitalis purpurea, the UK’s native foxglove. The pure species is beautiful, but you can take your pick of numerous cultivars, too. ‘Serendipity’ has unusual split flowers, those of ‘Alba’ are white, while those of ‘Sugar Plum’ have deep purple centres.

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UK native wildflowers

Foxgloves are one of our best-loved wildflowers, and there are plenty more wildflowers that look beautiful in a garden setting. For shade, try growing foxgloves with eupatorium and bugle. Discover 10 UK native wildflowers to grow.