The Ultimate Guide to Growing Foxglove from Seed


We will discuss the essential steps to successfully grow digitalis from seed. You will have a clear pathway to cultivating a flourishing foxglove garden patch.

Selecting Seeds

  1. Choosing Reputable Seed Suppliers

When sowing foxgloves, the first hurdle is finding quality seeds. You should look for suppliers with a known track record for providing healthy and viable seeds. Look for reviews and feedback from other gardeners to ensure you’re making a sound investment.

  1. Foxglove Seed Varieties

Foxglove growing zones are in USDA hardiness zones 4–9. Consider the different varieties of digitalis, the genus for foxglove. There’s a range of foxglove species and cultivars. Each with unique colors, sizes, and growing habits.

For example, Digitalis purpurea has the classic purple and white flowers. However, Digitalis grandiflora boasts creamy-yellow blooms. It prefers a more humid climate.

  1. Selecting the Best Seeds for Your Garden

Avoid seeds that are discolored, misshapen, or damaged. Instead, choose seeds with plump, uniformly sized, and have a consistent color. Healthy seeds are more likely to germinate and grow into robust plants.

Also, if you have the chance, select organically-grown seeds. They often result in healthier plants with higher resistance to pests and diseases.

Preparing for Planting

  1. When to Plant Digitalis Seeds?

The best time to plant foxglove seeds is from late spring to early summer. Sowing foxglove seeds when the weather is cool. This gives the plants a chance to establish before winter. They thrive when a natural cycle of frost can break their dormancy. This leads to stronger plants come springtime.

  1. Preparing the Soil

Your foxgloves-to-be will appreciate light, well-drained soil. Amend your garden bed with organic matter and a bit of sand if the soil is heavy or prone to puddling. Foxgloves prefer moisture but detest sitting in soggy soil. Test the pH of your planting site. They prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH level 5.5-6.5.

  1. Tools and Materials

Gardening gloves, a trusty trowel, and good watering are your best friends when propagating foxgloves from seed. Foxglove seeds are small. So having a dibber or something with a small tip. This can make seed planting more precise.

How to Grow Foxglove from Seed?

  1. Direct Sowing vs. Starting Indoors

When you’re ready to plant, you have two main options: direct sowing into the garden or starting seeds indoors. Direct sowing simplifies the process. While growing foxglove from seed indoors with controlled conditions can lead to stronger plants.

Direct sowing is as simple as broadcasting seeds on prepared soil and lightly covering them. Indoors, sow the fine seeds on moistened, sterile seed starting mix. Cover the plastic seed tray to retain moisture until germination.

XQ 15 cells seedling trays

  1. How to Plant Foxglove Seeds?

Whether indoors or out, ensure the soil is well-drained. Keep it consistently moist but not waterlogged. Germination can take from a few weeks to over a month. Once foxgloves seedlings are a few inches tall, thin to the strongest plants.

  1. Tips for Foxglove Germination

For the greatest success, use bottom heat mats if germinating indoors. Ensure a good source of bright, indirect light. Consider using a fungicide to prevent ‘damping off’. This disease can attack your seedlings.

When the seedlings have their first set of true leaves, transplant them to large plastic nursery pots. After the last frost of spring, acclimate the plants to outdoor conditions. Then plant them out.

Caring for Foxglove Seedlings

  1. Watering Techniques

Continue with the misting method for young seedlings. They have tender roots, and strong streams of water can uproot them. Water in the mornings. The foliage will have time to dry off during the day. This reduces the risk of fungal diseases.

  1. Fertilizing Strategy

After the first true leaves appear, apply a diluted, balanced liquid fertilizer. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the correct dosage. Avoid getting the fertilizer on the leaves to prevent them from burning.

  1. Pest and Disease Management

Keep a watchful eye for pests and diseases. For example, slugs and powdery mildew. If identified, treat the issue promptly with appropriate solutions. These may include organic insecticidal soaps or neem oil for pests and a fungicide for diseases.

Transplanting Seedlings

  1. Determining Seedling Readiness

Timing is critical when transplanting foxglove seedlings. Foxglove germination time is 14-21 days at 65-70°F (18-21°C). Typically, after foxglove seed germination, you should thin out seedlings when they have their first true set of leaves.

This usually occurs around 10-12 weeks after sowing. The seedlings should have at least four to five mature leaves before transplanting them into the garden. You may need to transplant earlier if seedlings are larger or growing faster.

  1. Soil Preparation and Spacing

Do foxgloves need full sun? Foxgloves prefer moist, well-drained soil and partial shade. Prepare the transplant site by enriching the soil with organic matter. For example, compost or well-rotted manure. Ensure the pH level of the soil is slightly acidic for the best growth.

How tall do foxglove grow? Spacing should accommodate the plant’s future size. Mature foxglove plants can reach 2-5 feet in height, with a spread of 1-2 feet. Space the plants 1.5-2 feet apart. This prevents overcrowding, which can lead to disease.

  1. Transplanting Techniques

Gently remove the seedlings from 1.5 gallon nursery pots. Trying to disturb the root system as little as possible. If roots are circling the pots, lightly tease them out before planting.

Dig a hole in the prepared soil slightly larger than the root system of the seedling. Place the plant in the hole. Ensure the crown (where the leaves meet the roots) is at soil level. Pat the soil gently around the seedling. Water thoroughly to help settle the soil.

Transplant in the late evening or a cloudy day to minimize transplant shock. Morning is also a good time. The plants have the entire day to recover before temperatures cool in the evening.

Transplanting seedlings earlier in the day may be stressful. The sun can exacerbate water loss and dehydration. Use a trowel for best results. Try not to transplant during windy days or in muddy soil conditions.

Foxglove Maintenance

  1. Watering and Fertilizing Established Plants

Established foxglove plants should be watered during dry periods to keep the soil moist but not saturated. An annual feeding in early spring with a balanced fertilizer will help them maintain their strength.

  1. Mulching to Conserve Moisture

Mulching can help conserve soil moisture and reduces the competition from weeds. It also keeps the plants’ roots cool in the summer.

  1. Providing Support for Tall Varieties

Tall foxglove varieties can benefit from staking to support their height, particularly in windy locations. Make sure the stakes are placed when the plants are young. This can avoid root damage later.

Harvesting Foxglove Seeds

  1. When Seed Pods Are Ready for Harvesting?

A mature seed pod will feel dry and should be just starting to crack open. Squeeze gently to ensure they’re ready for harvest. If the pod bursts open easily, it’s time to collect the seeds.

  1. Harvesting Techniques

To harvest, gently pinch the seed pod at its base and pull it off the stem. Use a paper bag or tray to catch seeds as you work to avoid losing any.

  1. Storing and Saving Foxglove Seeds

After harvest, ensure the seeds are completely dry before storing. Lay them out on a paper towel in a well-ventilated area for a few days. Once dry, store the seeds in a cool and dark place. For example, a paper envelope. Properly stored, foxglove seeds can remain viable for several years.


Propagating foxgloves from seed allows you to control and observe the entire life cycle of digitalis plants. With this guide, your garden will soon be home to these regal, natural works of art.

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