The Foxgolve ( Digitalis pupurea) is a native plant of Europe and used to be found growing in many British hedgerows.
Its botanical name means “finger-like” and refers to the easy ability to place an open flower over your finger, just like a thimble.
Tubular flowers are produced along a tall stem and depending of the species, vary from purple to pink, white, and yellow. Of course the best known species in the UK is the Common Foxglove or Digitalis purpurea.
Wild foxgloves are biennial, This means that they take two years to develop from seed to flower. The first year of growth produces a rosette of long basal leaves.
In the second year, the tall stem appears, thrusting the flower buds sometimes as high as 1.5 metres tall. The delicate pale pink buds open to reveal darker pink to purple flowers with speckled throats. These flowers surround the top third of the stem.
Foxgloves are loved by Bees and used to grow wild in hedgerows and waste ground in the UK. They are still to be found but not in such profusion.
The entire plant is very poisonous from the roots to the seeds and should never be picked or handled without the correct gloves and knowledge.
A long history of medicinal use surrounds the Foxglove and they are still used to this day to produce a heart medication called “Digitalin”.
Cottage garden designs invariably include foxgloves but instead of the native biennial foxglove which self seed so easily they can become a real weed, there is now a wide range of hybrid varieties including a perennial version which flowers every year.
The Digitalis Camelot trio from Thompson & Morgan is the first ever F1 Hybrid Foxglove.
Grows reliably in our UK gardens and becuase it’s and F1 hybrid, it does not self seed and take over the garden.
Worth remembering though, is the fact that Honey and Bumble bees require the native variety for its pollen and nectar. So if you have room and want to grow foxgloves, make sure you plant some of our native Digitalis Purpurea.