Columnar perennials with large, bell-shaped flowers opening from bottom to top, foxgloves are garden classics that bloom at about the same time as roses. Size varies with growing conditions and plant species, but many grow four to six feet tall, with flowers two to three inches long. The color range includes white, ivory, peach, pink, deep rose, and purple. Plants are short lived and sometimes die after blooming.
How to grow: Provide moist rich garden soil with good drainage and a touch of shade in the afternoon. In cooler, moister climates, full sun is better. Set plants two or more feet apart to prevent overcrowding. For more blooms on shorter stems, cut the central spike most of the way down before the flowers are fully formed. You'll force growth of many side shoots with flowers on them all. Deadhead plants after they flower, but allow at least a few flowers to ripen fully into tan pods full of brown seeds, and sprinkle the seeds onto cultivated ground where you would like more foxgloves.
Propagation: From seed and also by division in early spring.
Uses: Foxgloves make good mass plantings and look best when set against a background such as a fence, wall, or wooded area.
Related species: Digitalis grandiflora and D. lutea are yellowish flowered forms that are longer lived than D. purpurea.
Scientific name: Digitalis purpurea