Foxgloves are magnificent flowering plants for any garden that could use a hint of wilderness. And the tiny seeds of this beauty can be blown by the wind and surprise you by little plants that pop up almost anywhere. Isn’t gardening exciting sometimes?
The botanical name for this genus is Digitalis, a name derived from digitis that means ‘finger’. Both the Dutch and English names refer to the flower’s shape: vingerhoed (thimble) in Dutch and foxglove in English. Many foxgloves are biennials, but their offspring will come up year after year since their seeds germinate so easily. During their first year, they produce leaves in the form of a basal rosette. The second year, the plants aim for the sky with their conspicuous flower spikes. Unwanted foxglove seedlings, however, are easy to remove.
Foxgloves are often found growing in lush, natural-looking gardens in combination with plants like Cranesbill (Geranium), Columbine (Aquilegia) and ornamental grasses. What an enchanting sight! Yet this perennial looks right in place in sharply defined, modern gardens. Here, it adds a touch of wilderness that makes the garden look even more interesting.
Foxgloves benefit biodiversity
If you want to do your part to help biodiversity, plant some foxgloves. Their flower spikes will be buzzing with bees and bumblebees. The red spots encircled in white that are located inside the tube-shaped flowers are called ‘nectar guides’. They act as ‘runway lights’: ‘Hello, pollinators – this way to the nectar!’ The insects most likely to fly into the flowers are bumblebees that then emerge covered in pollen. Others – the smarter ones – bite a hole in the corolla, sip the nectar, and leave without getting dusted.
Did you know that…
- foxgloves come in many colours besides pink? There are also light purple, white, pastel yellow, reddish brown and raspberry varieties.
- their natural habitat is the forest? (They easily grow in shade.)
- this wild beauty contains poisonous substances? (Wash your hands thoroughly after planting them.)