Foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea) are stunning flowering plants that add elegance and charm to any garden or landscape. Known for their tall spires of bell-shaped flowers, foxgloves come in a variety of colors, making them a favorite among gardeners. If you want to enjoy these beautiful blooms in your garden, growing foxgloves from seed is a rewarding and cost-effective option. Here’s a guide on how to grow foxgloves from seed this spring, focusing on the best colors available.
1. Choosing the Right Seeds:
When selecting foxglove seeds, you’ll find a wide range of colors to choose from. Some popular varieties include the traditional purple, pink, white, and yellow. Additionally, there are unique foxgloves with bi-color flowers or spotted petals, such as ‘Dalmatian’ varieties. Consider the color scheme of your garden and personal preferences when deciding which colors to grow.
2. Timing and Preparation:
Foxgloves are biennial plants, meaning they have a two-year life cycle. To enjoy blooms in the spring, it’s important to start the seeds in late spring or early summer of the previous year. Prepare a well-draining seed-starting mix and fill small pots or seed trays with the mixture. Moisten the soil slightly before sowing the seeds.
3. Sowing the Seeds:
Sow the foxglove seeds on the soil surface, gently pressing them into the soil. As foxglove seeds require light to germinate, do not cover them with soil. Place the pots or trays in a warm, bright location, but avoid direct sunlight as it can dry out the soil. Mist the seeds regularly to keep the soil evenly moist until germination, which usually takes about 2 to 3 weeks.
4. Transplanting Seedlings:
Once the seedlings have developed their first true leaves, they can be transplanted into individual pots or into a prepared garden bed. Choose a location that receives partial shade to protect the young plants from intense sunlight. Space the seedlings about 12 to 18 inches apart to allow for their mature size.
5. Growing Conditions:
Foxgloves prefer rich, well-draining soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH. They thrive in partially shaded areas, such as under deciduous trees or along north-facing walls. Ensure the soil remains consistently moist but not waterlogged. Mulching around the plants can help retain moisture and suppress weeds. If your soil is sandy or heavy clay, consider amending it with organic matter to improve its texture and fertility.
6. Staking and Support:
As foxgloves can grow quite tall, ranging from 3 to 6 feet in height, staking or providing support may be necessary. Place stakes or supports around the plants early in their growth to prevent them from falling over in strong winds or heavy rain. This will help maintain their upright appearance and protect the delicate flower stalks.
7. Deadheading and Care:
To encourage prolonged flowering, regularly deadhead spent blooms by removing the entire flower stalk. This prevents the plant from setting seed and directs its energy towards producing new flowers. Keep an eye out for pests such as aphids or slugs, and take appropriate measures to control them if necessary.
8. Enjoying the Blooms:
With proper care and attention, your foxgloves will reward you with their magnificent blooms in late spring or early summer of their second year. The tall spires will be adorned with an array of vibrant colors, creating a striking focal point in your garden. Take the time to observe the intricate details of the bell-shaped flowers and their contrasting hues.
Remember, foxgloves are biennial, meaning they will complete their lifecycle after flowering and setting seed. To ensure a continuous display of foxgloves in your garden, allow a few plants to go to seed and collect them for the following year’s sowing.
Growing foxgloves from seed is a delightful experience that allows you to witness the entire lifecycle of these enchanting plants. Whether you choose classic shades of purple or explore the unique spotted varieties, foxgloves will add a touch of elegance and natural beauty to your garden. Enjoy the process of nurturing these plants and the rewards of their spectacular blossoms.