Growing Foxglove Plant Guide: Growing Zones, Care Tips, Foxglove Flowers

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Gardening | April 1, 2024

Man pointing to foxglove plant wonders how to grow foxglove flowers safely and how to choose types of foxglove perennials (digitalis purpurea), and when and where to plant foxglove.

If you want to add a Foxglove Plant to your garden, you should know that this interesting plant is beautiful and has medicinal properties, but it is also full of poison.

The stem, flowers, and leaves contain digitalis and other cardiac glycosides that usually affect the heart when eaten. Moreover, the plant is poisonous to both humans and pets.

Nonetheless, this plant is lovely and graceful, making it a significant addition to any landscape, as long as it’s not a threat to people or pets.

The Foxglove Plant is a biennial or short-lived perennial flower found in many homes. It’s loved for both its foliage and flowers.

In the first year, the Foxglove Plant forms large lance-shaped leaves forming a rosette at its base. And in the second year, it develops tall spikes of tubular flowers of different colors depending on the cultivar.

Unfortunately, many of these flowers do not grow past this stage. After flowering, they produce seeds and then die.

Even with these limitations, you can still grow the plant.

This complete guide explains everything you need to know about growing foxglove plant, identifying it in the wild, and tips for how to ensure that your foxglove flowers grow healthy and gorgeous.

What Is Foxglove Flower?(Digitalis purpurea)

Common Foxglove is a biennial or short-lived herbaceous perennial. Biennial means it takes two years to grow from seed to fruiting, then dies.

It belongs to the Plantaginaceae family and is native to Europe, Asia, and Northern Africa. However, it has been neutralized in most temperate regions worldwide.


(Digitalis purpurea)

Foxglove plant image in circle frame on green background.
  • Family: Plantaginaceae
  • Genus: Digitalis
  • Leaf: Lance-shaped leaves arranged in a rosette at the base and smaller, alternate leaves along the stem
  • Seed: Many tiny seeds are produced in the seed pods after the plant finishes flowering. They range from brown to black.
  • Blossoms: Tall spikes of tubular flowers. Their color ranges from pink, purple, white, and sometimes yellow, with a spotted throat.
  • Native Habitat: Europe and parts of Asia
  • Height: 3 to 6 feet
  • Canopy: Foxglove doesn't form a typical canopy because it grows in an upright and elongated spike-like form.
  • Type: Herbaceous biennial or short-lived perennials.
  • Native Growing Zone: USDA hardiness zone 4 to 10

Image Credit: Manfred Richter (manfredrichter)21

Foxglove is a very popular gardening plant. People love it for the stunning beauty it displays by forming a rosette in the first year, and the following year, beautiful flowers.

If you love birds, adding Foxglove to your garden would be wise. This plant is among the plants that attract hummingbirds, types of bees, and butterflies, adding more color to the garden.

The use of the Foxglove Plant goes beyond ornamental. It is also grown for the extraction of digoxin used in the manufacturing of heart medicine.

However, do not assume that this can be done at home. All parts of the Foxglove Plant are poisonous; ingesting them can be fatal for humans and pets.

In fact, it’s a natural repellent for deer or rabbits.

Foxglove Facts

Here are some interesting Foxglove facts you should know:

  1. The name “Foxglove” originates from the idea that foxes wore flowers on their paws while hunting. This would allow them to sneak on prey as they would walk without making a sound.
  2. All parts of Foxglove are poisonous when ingested by humans and pets. However, insects such as bees, hoverflies, and butterflies are unaffected.
  3. Despite the poison, Foxglove is an essential plant in medicine. It’s used in the manufacturing of heart disease medication and DNA testing.
  4. Most species of Foxgloves are biennials, but some are perennials.
  5. A Foxglove can have 20-80 flowers.
  6. A Foxglove Plant produces about 2 million seeds in its lifetime.
  7. Biennial Foxglove Plants bloom in their second and final year of life.

How To Identify Foxglove Plant

Foxgloves are tall showy plants known for their bell-shaped blooms.

There are many types of Foxglove flowers, different in size and flower colors.

Graphic of a Foxglove Plant Identification, showcasing images of Foxglove flowers, Foxglove stems, Foxglove seed capsules, and Foxglove leaves along with a map of the United States, featuring color-coded temperature zones that indicate the different regions where the plant thrives.

However, if you have flowers in your garden and wonder if they are Foxgloves, look for the following general characteristics traits as guidelines on how to identify Foxglove plants.

Foxglove Leaves

Foxglove leaves form a rosette at the base of the plant. The leaves are large, medium to dark green, with visible veins.

They are lance-shaped with a fuzzy texture and can have whitish or grayish tints on the underside.

 Foxglove Stem and Height

After forming a rosette foliage in the first year, Foxglove will send up a tall, erect stem of about 3 to 5 feet.

The stem is usually sturdy and reddish.

Foxglove Flowers

A dense spike will form with many flowers at the top of the stem. The flowers are pendulous, tubular, and bell-shaped.

They have a wide mouth with spots inside the throat. Foxglove colors are different depending on the cultivar.

They can be pink, purple, white, brown, blue, or yellow.

The blooming period starts from late spring to mid-summer. During this time, you will see a lot of pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

Foxglove Seeds

Foxglove flowers produce seed capsules once the flowers are pollinated. The capsule has many tiny dark brown to black seeds.

Their shapes differ and can range from round to angular. The capsule usually opens when it is mature to release the seeds for self-seeding.


While this is not the best way to identify the plant, please note this plant has toxic compounds like digitalis glycosides.

It’s dangerous when ingested.

Types of Foxglove

There are about 117 types of Foxglove Plants. Their main differences are usually the types of flowers they produce, the leaves’ shape, and their best-growing zone.

While most varieties are biennials and will die after dropping seeds in their second year of life, there are also short-lived perennials, Foxglove Plants. See the difference below:

Foxglove Perennial Flowers

If you are looking for Foxglove perennials that will flower for more than two years, then you are in luck. Most Foxglove Plants below flower every year, and some take a short time to start flowering.

1. Large Yellow Foxglove

(Digitalis grandiflora)

Digitalis grandiflora is quite hardy,8 and it’s easy to grow in most soils as long as it’s not too wet or dry. It’s also drought-tolerant once established compared to other species.

Yellow Foxglove plants displaying their extended, tubular, and drooping blossoms.

(Image: Hans20)

However, it grows best in rich, well-drained soil. Plant it in full sun, but it will also do well in partial shade.

Yellow Foxglove grows to three feet and produces large warm yellow flowers. It is native to southern Europe and grows best in USDA zones 3 – 8.

Yellow Foxglove makes a good cut flower, especially when the flowers are half open. Add this showy plant next to purple Foxglove or snapdragons.

Close-up view of a Rusty Foxglove plant featuring its orange, tube-shaped blooms in a grassy background.

(Image: Cascafico13)

2. Rusty Foxglove

(Digitalis ferruginea)

This lovely cut flower will grace your garden with cream to pale golden brown flowers with a rusty interior. This flower is hardy in USDA zones 4-9.

It prefers full sun to partial shade and moist but well-drained soil.

Rusty Foxglove is showy,4 semi-evergreen, and an excellent herbaceous border addition. It also mixes well with roses, blue Foxglove, and coral bells.

3. Straw Foxglove

(Digitalis lutea)

Don’t get confused between Digitalis grandiflora and Digitalis lutea. While they both produce yellow flowers, they are not alike.

Digitalis lutea has tubular yellow flowers with brown spotted interiors.

Focused shot of a Straw Foxglove with its tubular, hairy, yellow flowers and green leaves.

(Image: Helge Klaus Rieder14)

The flowers are smaller compared to Digitalis grandiflora flowers.

With glossy green leaves, this plant will enhance your garden or border as it can grow up to two to three feet tall. Digitalis lutea is native to Southern Europe and West Africa but is hardy in USDA zones 4 – 9.

Close up of a Grecian Foxglove plant with its brown flowers, broad green Foxglove leaves, and flowering stems covered with woolly hairs.

(Image: Dinkum15)

4. Grecian Foxglove

(Digitalis lanata)

Although Grecian Foxglove flowers are considered invasive in some parts of North America,5 don’t be deterred from planting them. With proper care and gardening practices, you can contain this beauty and ensure your garden is lit with white, yellow, and brownish bowl-shaped blooms every June to August.

Also called woolly Foxglove, this plant is native to Europe and grows up to four feet. Plant Digitalis lanata in rich, well-drained soil in partial shade or full sun within USDA zones 5 -8.

It will do well as a border plant or mixed with brunnera or ferns within the garden.

5. Small-Flowered Foxglove

(Digitalis parviflora Jacq)

Digitalis parviflora Jacq is perfect if you are looking for a Foxglove with smaller flowers.

It grows best in USDA zone 5 -8 and is native to Spain.

Close-up of a Small-Flowered Foxglove plant showcasing its cluster of coppery brown, bell-shaped blooms.

(Image: Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz10)

It prefers well-drained, rich soil and can tolerate shade if it gets a few hours of full sun.

It produces brownish bell-like blooms with yellow interiors that are tightly packed. It best companions are grassy plants like sedges (carex), purple or white Foxglove, and roses.

Foxglove Biennials Flowers

Unlike perennial Foxglove Plants that will start flowering in the first year, with biennial Foxgloves, you’ll have to wait till the second year. Moreover, this display will only last a few months, and the plant will drop seeds and then die.

To enjoy biennial flowers, you must seed every year to ensure continuity. Luckily, these flowers are self-seeding, and their germination rate is also high.

So, do you want to plant Foxglove biennial flowers? Here are some you should try.

1. Foxglove (Primrose Carousel)

(Digitalis purpurea ‘Primrose Carousel’)

This plant is shorter compared to other Foxgloves. It can therefore be grown in pots or as a border plant.

However, don’t plant it as a back border unless other border plants don’t get very tall.

Close-up of a Primrose Carousel Foxglove plant, highlighting its yellow flowers speckled with purple freckles against a black background.

(Image: Buntysmum16)

With a height of 2.5 feet and a spread of 1.5 feet, this plant is hardy and grows best in full sun or partial shade.

Grow Digitalis purpurea ‘Primrose Carousel’ within USDA zones 4-8, to enjoy cream-pale yellow blooms with purple freckles inside in late spring to summer. You can pair this plant with polygonatum odoratum red stems or any Digitalis with purple or yellow flowers.

2. Foxglove (Pink Gin)

(Digitalis purpurea ‘Pink Gin’)

This biennial Foxglove produces beautiful light pink flowers with a speckled interior. They can easily grow in rich, well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade.

Pink gin gets quite tall, reaching almost four feet, making it a good border plant. Add color to your garden by mixing this plant with Digitalis lutea, Camelot cream, or Camelot lavender within USDA 4-9.

3. Foxglove (Excelsior Hybrid)

(Digitalis purpurea ‘Excelsior Hybrid’)

This biennial is one of the prettiest Foxglove varieties, with cream, white, pink, primrose, and purple flowers.

It grows in humus, moist and well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade. It grows best within USDA zones 4-8.

Close-up view of a Foxglove Excelsior Hybrid, featuring its green leaves, funnel-shaped pink and yellow flowers with dark interior markings.

(Image: David J. Stang11)

How To Know if Foxgloves Are Biennial or Perennial

Determining the types of flowers in your garden is essential because you can customize your care practices. If you need to plant the flowers, the surest way to know if they are biennial or perennial Foxgloves is to visit a local nursery and ask.

However, it can be tricky if you already have them growing in your garden. The tips below will help you differentiate between biennial and perennial Foxgloves.

  1. Observe the plant flowering patterns: Biennial Foxglove flowers usually form rosette foliage in the first year and start flowering within the second year. If the plant flowers within the first year, it should be perennial.
  2. Check the root system: Perennial plants have a complex root system compared to biennial plants. In the second year, after fruiting and releasing seeds, the biennial plant root system will deteriorate as the plant dries after the completion of its life cycle: the roots may show signs of decay or damage.
    However, the perennial plant root system will remain intact and healthy.
  3. Observe plant growth pattern: as mentioned above, biennials will die after dropping seeds in the second year. Therefore you don’t expect to see new shoots growing.
    However, a perennial Foxglove Plant will grow sprouts throughout the year, even after flowering, if it gets sufficient sunlight, water, and nutrients. So, where do you check this growth?
    Check the growth of new shoots emerging at the base of the plant. New leaves should also grow in the middle of the plant for perennial flowers.

Planting Tips for Foxglove Plant

When seeking planting tips for Foxglove Plants, keep in mind that they are prolific self-seeding flowers. This means you don’t have to seed them every two years: you can just allow them to drop seeds, and new plants will grow.

However, allowing them to self-seed can have adverse effects. First, they will spread throughout the garden, lawn, and pathway because they are invasive.

You will end up with many flowers of the same species, which is not very appealing. Instead, you should keep controlled numbers of plants with different varieties of flowers, for example, types of white flowers, blue flowers, and purple flowers.

Secondly, the flowers may grow in riskier places in the garden, putting children and pets at risk.

How Long It Takes To Grow Foxglove Plant: Foxglove Plant Growth Rate

Because most Foxgloves are biennial, they take two years to grow from seed to flowering, dropping seeds and then dying.9

When it comes to Foxglove Plant growth rate, biennial Foxglove seeds will take two to three weeks to germinate.

Graphic illustrating the Foxglove Plant growth chart, indicating that its height ranges from 1-2 feet in the initial year, and can extend to 3-6 feet during its second year, influenced by factors such as its species, prevailing climate, soil conditions, and care practices.

After germination, they will sprout and grow leaves that will form a rosette at the base of the plant in the first year.

From spring of the following year, tall spikes of bell-shaped flowers will grow from the center of the rosette. The flowers will last till summer.

After flowering, the plant will produce seed pods. It will then start to decline and finally die.

However, this is not the case with all Foxglove Plants. Perennial Foxgloves live more than two years and will start to flower in the first year, showcasing how long it takes to grow Foxglove Plant in optimal conditions.

In fact, some species, like Dalmatian Creme Hybrid, usually flower four months after seeding. Nonetheless, the germination period is the same.

Foxglove Plant Growing Zone (Where To Plant Foxglove Flowers)

Foxglove Plants are natives of Southern Europe,1 Asia, and North Africa. When considering where to plant Foxglove, look for areas with rich, well-drained soil with full sun to partial shade.

Wild Foxglove grows in woodlands, waste grounds, roadside, or at the foot of hedges. Currently, Foxglove has been naturalized in many parts of the world, including the United States.

They are planted in gardens and as border plants. The best Foxgloves planting zones are USDA zone 4-10.

So, can Foxglove be grown indoors? If you have a balcony where it can get at least four hours of sun every day, then it’s possible.

However, due to its toxicity, choosing the right location is crucial, keeping in mind the Foxglove Plant growing zone.

Best Growing Conditions for Foxglove Plant (Foxglove Care)

Understanding the best growing conditions for Foxglove Plant is crucial for a lush and healthy garden.

Low-angle view of a Foxglove plant showcasing its cluster of tubular-shaped, purple blossoms against a forest backdrop.

(Image: AlkeMade17)

This guide will cover essential Foxglove care tips including sunlight, soil, and watering needs for its optimal growth.

1. Sunlight: How Much Sunlight Does Foxglove Plant Need Each Day

When determining how much sunlight does Foxglove Plant need each day, it’s essential to note that while many species thrive in full sun, others can tolerate partial shade. If you plant varieties that like full sun in shaded areas, they will get problems such as powdery mildew.

Ensure to check the sunlight needs of specific Foxglove Plant types before planting.

2. Soil

Foxgloves can grow in most soils as long as it is rich,2 well-drained, and slightly acidic to neutral. You don’t necessarily need to use fertilizer.

You can use compost or well rotten manure before planting them. However, use a slow-release fertilizer if you don’t have compost or manure.

Always water after application and ensure the fertilizer doesn’t touch the leaves as it would burn them.

3. Water: Watering Needs for Foxglove Plant

When it comes to the watering needs for Foxglove Plants, it’s important to note that they are not drought tolerant. A prolonged period of dryness will cause them to dry up.

While they don’t need regular watering after establishing, give them water during extended dry periods. Ensure the soil is moist but not wet.

Water twice a week during spring and summer and only when the top three inches of the soil feel dry. Limit watering during fall and winter.

Avoid overhead irrigation as it encourages fungal diseases. Additionally, overwatering will cause crown rot.

Growing a Foxglove Plant From a Seed (When to Plant Foxglove Seeds)

Typically, the process of growing a Foxglove plant from a seed involves collecting seeds from the flower’s mature seed capsules. After pollination, the flowers produce seed capsules with tiny seeds inside, and knowing when to plant Foxglove seeds is essential for successful cultivation.

The capsule will open once it matures in late summer, releasing the seeds inside. Mature seeds are brown to black.

Close-up of a Common Foxglove plant displaying its blooming purple flowers, with green buds and leaves on a green stem.

(Image: Wensbos18)

Collect the seeds before the capsule bursts if you don’t want the flower to self-seed. Remember that some cultivars and hybrids don’t produce many viable seeds, so you must sow as many as possible to increase the chances of germination.

You may also get a different cultivar than the parent. So, how do you collect the seed?

  • Wear gloves before touching the Foxgloves plant.
  • Look for seed capsules inside the blossoms.
  • Cut the blossom and turn it upside down, shaking it to release the seeds into a paper.
  •  For biennial plants, pull and discard the plant after collecting the seeds.

How To Plant Foxglove Seeds

Once you have the seeds, you can sow them immediately or dry them to plant them in the future. To plant them, do the following:

  • Fill the tray with soil mixed with compost or seed starter mix.
  • Moist the mix.
  • Scatter the seeds into the moist soil.
  • Press the seeds gently down to make good contact with the mix but don’t cover them, as they need light to germinate.
  • Put the tray in a sheltered spot in a light shade. You can also put it indoors.
  • Ensure the temperature is between 50 – 65°F.
  • Moist the mix whenever it gets dry.
  • The seeds should germinate in two to three weeks.
  • Growing the seed outdoors into prepared seed beds follows the same steps.

Growing Foxglove Seedlings (When To Plant Foxglove)

After germination, the Foxglove seedlings need to be transplanted into the garden or containers. However, it’s best to wait until the leaves reach about 10 cm in length to know when to plant Foxglove in its final location.

Take a small knife or stick and loosen up the soil around the plant. Prick them out but carefully not to damage the root.

Keep in mind that seedlings grown indoors should not be transplanted immediately outside. Instead, move them out to a sheltered spot for a week to harden them.

Protect them from wind and hot sun and move them indoors if there is the danger of frost.

Prepare beds in an area in full sun or partial shade. Remove debris and rake lightly, then add compost or rotted manure.

Dig holes 18 to 24 inches apart, depending on your Foxglove Plant variety. Put the plants in the hole, and sufficiently fill it with soil and water.

The soil should be moist but not wet.

Foxgloves From Off-Shoots and Basal Cuttings

If you have perennial Foxgloves, you can grow new plants from offshoots and basal cuttings. The shootings typically appear outside the center of the rosette.

To extract them, dig up the plant and cut the shoots with roots using a sharp knife.

Replant the parent plant and plant the offshoots in a potting mix in a container of at least 4 inches. Water the mix till moist and place the plant in a warm but sheltered place.

Plant them in the garden once the roots are strong enough and grow to the container’s bottom.

How Far Apart To Plant Foxglove Plant

When contemplating how far apart to plant Foxglove Plants, ensure you provide enough space to grow and flower.

Mature Foxgloves usually spread to about 12 to 18 inches, so space them correctly to avoid overcrowding.

A group of Foxglove plants in a field, highlighting their elongated clusters of dark-pink blossoms.

(Image: Norrisskyia19)

Because some varieties get larger, the thumb rule for spacing is about 2 feet apart. However, if you have the dwarf variety, thin them according to how big they get.

Deadheading Foxglove

Deadheading is done by removing spent flowers from the plant.7 It should be done when the flowers start to fade and droop.

Deadheading will stop the plant from spreading seeds and may encourage reblooming, especially for perennial Foxgloves.

So, how is deadheading done?

  • Check the plant spike to identify wilting or faded flowers: these are the ones to cut.
  • Using a clean pair of sharp pruning shears or scissors, locate the base of the flower stem.
  •  Position the pruning shears just above the healthy leaves or side shoots.
  • Make a clean cut angled at 45 degrees.
  • Collect and dispose of the removed flower spikes and all other debris to reduce the spread of diseases and pests.

Diseases of Foxglove Plants

Foxgloves are easy to grow in various zones. However, they are still susceptible to the following diseases.3

  • Leaf spot: Leaf spot appear as small brown spots on leaves but can also affect the flower bud.
    The disease is caused by the fungus Ramularia cynarae and is common in warm, humid climates. Severe infection will cause the leaf to fall.
  • Downy Mildew: Starts as dark spots on the upper side of the leaf, then spreads to form white or grayish spores on the lower side. The disease is common during cool temperatures and high humidity.

Foxglove Disease Prevention and How To Stop Foxglove Plant Disease

Here are the key strategies for Foxglove disease prevention and how to stop Foxglove Plant disease.

Close-up view of a Foxglove plant leaf, revealing the presence of brown leaf spots.

(Image: Krzysztof Golik12)

  • Leaf spot: Remove all affected leaves and flowers. You might have to cut the entire plant in case of severe infestation.
    Also, avoid overhead watering.
  • Downy Mildew: this disease is easily spread by wind, but the fungus usually dies when the temperature reaches 70 degrees Fahrenheit. You can prevent the disease by spacing your plant appropriately to enable air circulation.

Common Pests of the Foxglove Plant

Foxgloves are very poisonous,6 making rabbits and deers keep away from them. However, they are loved by different types of bees, hummingbirds, and different types of butterflies.

Regarding common pests of the Foxglove Plant, be on the lookout for aphids, mealybugs, slugs, and nematodes. Nematode worms infest the roots causing stunted growth and weakening of the plant.

Aphids and mealybugs suck the plant causing it to wilt.

How To Stop Foxglove Plant Pests

Maintaining a healthy garden is the best way to keep pests away from your plants. Water adequately and fertilize when needed.

So, how do you stop Foxglove pests?

  • Add companion plants with a strong scent, like lavender and marigold.
  • Add helpful insects into the garden, such as lacewings and ladybugs, to eat aphids and mites.
  • Use neem oil and insecticidal soap; they are the best natural pest control for Foxglove Plants.
  • Use pesticide.

Foxglove Plants are a beautiful addition to any garden. You can add them as border plants or plant them in pots and place them near the buildings.

Luckily, there are many varieties, like wild Foxgloves and yellow Foxglove.

They are easy to grow as they require minimal care. You just need to add compost, well-rotted manure, or slow-release fertilizer to ensure the soil is humus.

Additionally, you must water adequately but ensure the soil is not very wet, which can encourage fungal diseases.

To grow Foxglove Plants, gather seeds from mature flowers after blooming, buy seedlings from a local nursery, or plant offshoots or basal cuttings.

With the right care and attention, your foxglove plant will produce gorgeous foxglove flowers that will make your indoor or outside landscape stunning.

Frequently Asked Questions About Foxglove Plant

How Can You Plant Foxglove Plants?

Foxglove Plants can be planted by sowing seeds collected after the blossoms start to fade. You can also buy seedlings from your local nursery or plant basal cuttings or offshoots.

What Is the Best-Growing Zone for Foxglove Plants?

Foxglove Plants prefer full sun to partial shade. They grow best in USDA zones 4 -10

Is It Safe To Plant Foxgloves Near Homes?

All parts of Foxglove Plants are poisonous when ingested by humans and pets. Don’t plant them near children’s and pets’ playing areas, and make sure to educate your household on the danger of ingesting the plant


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