With its unusual, down-turned, tubular blooms, foxglove inspires nicknames such as fairy's glove, witches' gloves, gloves of our lady, fairy caps, folk's glove and fairy thimbles. Foxglove is the common name for plants of the Digitalis genus. The varieties usually found in gardens are common foxglove (Digitalis purpurea L.) and Grecian foxglove (Digitalis lanata).
Foxglove is a biennial plant, meaning its life cycle covers two growing seasons. The first season, it produces leaves in rosettes; the second season, foxglove flowers, produces seeds, then dies. Foxglove readily reseeds itself, allowing it to appear almost as a perennial plant. Spent foxglove flowers can be deadheaded to keep the plant looking attractive. Just leave some flowers behind if you want the plant to reseed before dying for the next season.
Deadhead foxglove by removing individual spent blooms when about three-fourths of its flower spike has faded. The plant's stem can also be cut back to the basal rosettes after flowering is done. Foxglove plants sometimes re-bloom after deadheading, but with smaller flowers. Remove unattractive foliage from the plant, while it is still flowering, such as leaves that are brown or dead.
Pinching means removing new growth from a plant to make it grow more compactly and produce more flowers. As a plant having one terminal flower spike, foxglove should not be pinched.
Foxglove performs best in cool climates in moist, acidic, sandy loam soil with abundant organic material and partial shade. Foxglove works well in shady borders and woodland gardens. Remember that all parts of the plant are highly poisonous.
- Cornell University Home Gardening: Foxglove
- Purdue University Horticulture and Landscape Architecture: Foxglove
- Washington State University Clark County Extension: Common foxglove
- University of Vermont Extension System: Caring for perennials
- University of Ilinois Extension, Homeowner's Column: Pinching and pruning -- a perennial primer