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  • Jane Westoby

Growing Foxgloves

There is something so special and so British about a foxglove, with their tall spiked swaying in the breeze adding early colour and height to the summer garden.

The ones I grow in abuncance in my garden is the one we sell as "Hazy days mix". It's a beautiful mixed variety with deep purples, pinks, whites and all shades in between. It's the spotted foxglove Digitalis Purpurea. The bees and insects just love it and I spend many hours just watcing them go from one flower to the next.

Foxglove hazy days mix
Foxglove hazy days mix

Foxgloves are mainly biennial which means that they will germinate in the first year, grow a few sets of leaves and bulk up ready for the winter, they will then flower in their second year.

I usually plant one crop (The hazy days mix) in midsummer - June time, either in trays or in a prepared seed bed. Either will do and it depends on how much space you have. Sowing in trays means that they will need potting on and if left too long will be a bit stunted so I find that a prepared seed bed is good for me as I often am too busy at that time of year for pricking out.


  1. Prepare the soil by raking and breaking down by hand if necessary to a fine tilth. You can add some compost too but generally they are not greedy feeders and will tolerate quite poor soil.

  2. Mark a long very shallow drill with a stick or your finger for the seeds to sit in so that -they will not get washed away and water the soil well.

  3. Sow the seeds along the drill as thinly as you can, the seeds are sooooo small its very easy to oversow. You can try mixing the seeds with a little sand at this will help.

  4. Do not cover. Watch and wait, watering lightly each day if it is dry.

  5. Once the seedlings are large enough to handle they can be thinned to 5cm, then to 10cm later on in the season. Each time re planting the pricked out seedlings into their own row and watering well.

  6. They can then all be dig up and planted into their final flowering positions in September time.

This method works particulary well if you want to grow a lot of plants. I grow around 200 like this and it saves me having to pot them into expensive compost and water them each day, not to mention I don't have 200 spare pots or anywhere to put them! . If you only want to grow a few then sowing into pots or trays will work well but they will get quite large by September so they should also be transplated out to their final positions. They will then over winter quietly, and require no care or attention and bllom profusely in May the following year.

Cafe Creme Mertonensis Strawberry Dalmation Peach

Some varieties will flower the same year if sowed early, so check seeds packets if this is what you need. Camelot and Dalmation peach are good for this. Sowed in February in pots indoors with some gentle heat, pricking out as necessary they will bloom late summer.

After flowering if the main spike is cut back you may get a second flush of much smaller but very pretty spikes which are great for use in bouquets, and some will also be short lived perennials so will come back for 3-5 years.

As already mentioned they are not fussy, some of my tallest ones this year are al least 2m tall and have been planted under trees in dry shade with no added nutrients in years and they are doing just fine. I also have some in wet shade - doing just as well, and also in full sun.


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