Stems are round, light green to pale purplish green. The main leaves can be up to nearly 2½ inches long (3 to 6 centimeters), fern-like, and deeply lobed with 5-8 pairs of lobes. The leaves are opposite and sessile, although the lower leaves may have short stalks.
Foxglove has distinct flower stalks that bear many clustered flowers and rise above the foliage of the plant. The individual flowers are long, bell-shaped and directed downwards. Foxglove flowers come in shades of pink, purple, lavender, yellow, and white; Many have white or purple spots in the flowers.
Be careful when handling this plant. All parts of it can cause an allergic reaction, but the berries are particularly poisonous. The plant contains tiny needle-shaped crystals that can be severely irritating to the skin. Consumption may cause swelling of the throat, difficulty breathing and stomach irritation.
Many types of plants benefit from deadheading, and foxgloves are no exception. Deadheading foxglove planting can be done to remove unsightly finished bud sites, prevent self-seeding and encourage new growth. Occasionally, removing faded foxglove flowers will cause the plant to send out smaller, lateral spikes of flowers.
Gloves are toxic to the touch and while you may not feel a reaction, you could easily transfer the toxins into your eyes, mouth, or an open wound. Always wear gloves when handling thimbles.
Foxglove: A biennial
Foxglove is a biennial, which means that unlike perennials, which come back every year, and annuals, which only have a single season The plant needs two years to fully flower before completing its life cycle.
After flowering you should prune faded flower stalks back to ground level, unless you wish to collect seeds for later sowing or want the plants to self-seed. If you want seeds for future use, you should cut off the stems after the seed has been collected or discarded.
Digoxin-Fab has also proven itself as an antidote for poisoning caused by other cardiac glycosides.
In many ways foxgloves are perfect for hummingbird pollination. Each flower produces a large quantity of nectar and by growing in large populations they provide the supplies hummingbirds need to meet their high energy demands.
Most foxgloves are biennials, meaning they will develop roots and leaves in the first year and flower and seed in the second year before dying. However, some Foxglove species are perennial.
Foxglove is spreading as it seeds itself, which means Foxglove is likely to appear in various other borders as well.
After the plant has set seed, it’s okay to cut it back. The biennial foxglove will sow its second year. In the first year it is okay to prune the plant back when the foliage begins to die back as there will be no flower or seed production. Perennial foxgloves should also be allowed to set seed for future generations.
Toxicity to Pets
While Foxgloves are beautiful with their trumpet-like flowers, they are very toxic to dogs, cats, and even humans! Foxglove contains naturally occurring toxins that affect the heart, particularly cardenolides or bufadienolides.
Which part of the foxglove is poisonous to dogs? All parts of the foxglove plant are considered poisonous, including the foxglove leaves and even the water it sits in. In an emergency, call your vet if your dog has eaten parts of a thimble – they can be fatal.
Foxgloves are poisonous to both pets and humans. Just a bit of foxglove can kill a cat. The cardiac glycosides in foxgloves can cause vomiting, diarrhea, muscle weakness and heart failure.
The tall, elegant spikes of Digitalis purpurea, or foxgloves as they are commonly known, are iconic flowers in cottage gardens and woodlands. This hardy biennial thrives in almost any location from full sun to full shade and is therefore particularly easy to cultivate.
Coralbells, roses, delphiniums, daisies, peonies, astilbes, snapdragons and irises are good companion plants for very large foxgloves such as ‘Sutton’s Apricot’ or ‘Giant Spotted Foxglove’, which can grow to five or grow six feet.
Foxglove prefers moist, well-drained soil with a high organic matter content and grows best in full sun with light afternoon shade. If you don’t have nutrient-rich soil, add compost and mulch the area well. Plant larger potted plants in spring or autumn.
Foxglove seeds easily in the garden. You can also harvest and sow foxglove seeds in summer to grow new plants in pots. These can later be planted exactly where you want them to grow. Foxglove seeds ripen in late summer.