Potted Foxglove Care – Tips On Growing Foxglove In Containers

By: Liz Baessler

Foxgloves are big, beautiful, flowering plants that tolerate shade well. Keep reading to learn more about how to grow foxglove in a pot.

Container Grown Foxglove Plants

Will foxglove plants grow in pots? Yes, as long as they’re given enough room. Foxgloves can grow as big as 5 feet (1.5 m.) high and a foot (0.5 m.) wide, so they need a sufficiently big container.

Foxgloves are biennials, which means they don’t bloom until their second year of growth. Because of this, growing foxglove in containers won’t be very showy the first summer if you start from seed. If you want flowers in your first summer, buy container grown foxglove plants that are already established from a nursery.

Foxglove plants die after blooming, but they drop plenty of seeds that will grow new plants the following year. You can deadhead some flowers to encourage new growth, but if you want the seeds you’ll have to leave some flowers.

Potted Foxglove Care

Potted foxglove care is easy. Choose a large container with some form of support so the plants don’t droop over. Since container grown foxglove plants are so tall, they can be planted very effectively surrounded by shorter and trailing plants, serving as the “thriller” portion of the “thriller, filler, spiller” effect.

Growing foxglove in containers requires humus-rich soil and moderate to frequent watering so the soil doesn’t dry out.

Foxgloves can grow in anything from partial sun to shade. They don’t like the heat, however, so if you live in a warmer climate, they’ll perform better in a shadier area.

A note of caution: This plant is considered toxic if ingested and even the sap can cause issues in sensitive individuals. It’s probably best to avoid growing this plant, or at least have it somewhere out of the way if you have small children or pets.

This article was last updated on

Growing Foxgloves From Seed

How To Get Your Garden Ready

  • Foxglove seeds
  • Garden spade
  • Hand fork
  • Rake
  • Bamboo cane
  • Watering can

If you opt to grow foxglove from seeds, you first have to get your garden ready by selecting an ideal location that receives a full sun to a partial shade ratio. This should be easy depending on where the sun rises and sets in your backyard.

Foxgloves prefer nitrogen-rich, well-drained soil, adding compost, tilling the growing media, and the removal of any existing debris can be of great help.

Adding compost to your garden bed will not only provide adequate nutrients to the soil. It will also help improve soil aeration by making the soil loose and ideal in texture.

Growing Foxgloves From Seeds Indoors

Image by: davesgarden.com

It is best to grow foxgloves indoors at first, and then you can transplant them outside when frost is no longer a threat. You can also sow the seeds directly in the soil during the summer.

Here’s how to sow seeds indoors:

  • Start to sow the seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before the last frost.
  • Sprinkle them with seed-starting formula
  • Regularly check and maintain the soil moisture at 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Seeds will start to germinate after 14-21 days.

As soon as the seeds start to germinate, allow them to receive an adequate amount of sunlight by placing them on the sunny windowsill, or supplement them with artificial lights about 16 hours every day.

Place them about 3-4 inches beneath the fluorescent light if you opt to supply the light they require. However, avoid using incandescent bulbs, as they will get too hot and can cause your newly germinated seedlings to possibly die.

Newly germinated seedlings do not necessarily need much fertilizer, but you can feed them with a starter solution when they are about 3-4 weeks old. (It is essential to follow the manufacturer’s feeding directions)

If you start to grow the seeds in small pots, it is best to re-pot the seedlings in a bigger container pot, so they have more room to develop and can establish strong roots.

Before planting your seedlings in the garden, allow your plants to be familiar with the outdoor conditions for a week by moving them to a covered area.

Make sure to protect them from the scorching sun during the day, and also when there’s a threat of possible frost at night.

Transplanting Into The Garden

Image by: gardeningproductsreview.com
  • Planting on cloudy days or in the late afternoon can help reduce the possibility of transplant shock.
  • Dig a hole large enough to accommodate the entire root ball of your plants that is approximately about 18 inches apart.
  • Carefully remove the plants from the pot and gently loosen the root ball to encourage proper root growth.
  • Place the seedling in the hole and fill with soil. Secure the seedling by pressing down your hand gently.
  • Toss a light layer of mulch on the top of the soil around the base of the plant about 2 inches deep to help retain the soil moisture and lessen possible weed growth.

Sowing Directly In The Garden

Image by: gardenersworld.com

If you opt to plant the foxglove seeds directly into your garden, here are a few tips on growing them successfully:

  • Foxgloves require sunlight to germinate, so if you opt to plant them straight into your garden, directly scatter them on the surface of the ground.
  • Gently rake the seeds into the soil, but avoid burying them deeply. Doing so will cause a fail of germination.
  • After sowing, water the garden bed thoroughly, and wait for about 20 to 30 days for the seeds to germinate.
  • Thin the seedlings when large enough to handle and allow a spacing of about 12-24 inches apart to prevent overcrowding.

Foxglove Growing Care Tips

  1. Weeds compete with plants for water, nutrients, and space. So, ensure to lay mulch around the plants to keep weeds away during the growing period.
  2. Mulches are also excellent in preserving soil moisture and keeping the soil temperatures. Some organic mulches like shredded bark and dried leaves, provide a naturally pleasing look to your garden bed. However, you have to keep mulches off from the plant’s stems to prevent possible rotting.
  3. It is necessary to water the plants properly, particularly at the start of their growing period. Watering thoroughly at least once a week is sufficient enough to help new roots establish fully.
  4. Water early in the morning, ensuring the soil will maintain the moisture 1-inch below the surface until afternoon. You can quickly check them using the soil- finger test and see if you need to water more during the day.
  5. Foxgloves that are grown indoors need good air circulation, while those grown outdoors require protection from the scorching sun and extreme winds during the day.
  6. Staking isn’t necessary unless your garden is regularly exposed to extreme winds.
  7. You have to remove excess mulches when new growth starts to appear in spring.
  8. After the first flowering in the early perennial, it is essential to cut back the faded flower stems to the ground level. Feed them with some fertilizers to encourage a second flush of flowers.
  9. To encourage foxglove to grow as perennials, you have to cut the spikes off at ground level before the head seeds develop.

Foxglove Toxicity

Foxgloves, although are beautiful with their trumpet-like blossoms, contain a poison called cardiac glycoside toxins which affects the heart muscle, making it poisonous to both humans and animals, particularly dogs and cats.

Foxglove cut-flowers can last approximately five days in freshwater, but all parts of the plants are toxic, so even the water in the vase used to display cut flowers can cause toxicosis, an illness caused by its poison.

The poison can make the heart pump harder and can cause heart irregularity making the heart rate slow down, which is both dangerous and life-threatening.

However, the degree of poisoning varies on the amount ingested on the particular part of the plant.

This type of plant is one of the reasons you have to watch your children and pets closely when playing outdoors.

In addition to that, it is not appropriate to prepare your herbal medicines or food from plants growing in your garden, unless you are 100% certain on the plants and you know how to do so safely.

Recap: The leaves of foxgloves are highly poisonous when ingested, so it is best not to grow them where your children and pets may have a chance of associating with them.

Growing Foxglove In Container Pots

Image by: greenandvibrant.com

Foxgloves can be grown in container pots as long as it receives the proper amount of sunlight, adequate water, and care.

  • If you are considering growing foxgloves in containers, get a larger pot that is at least 16 inches in diameter with a few drainage holes in its base.
  • Plant the foxglove seedlings deep enough to cover the entire plant’s root ball.
  • Toss about 2 inches of mulch around the base of the plants, but not on the stem itself. The mulch will help retain the soil moisture. Secure the plant by pressing the potting soil gently.
  • Let your foxglove plant receive about three to six hours of sunlight every day, or place on a windowsill facing North or South.
  • If you opt to keep them inside, ensure the room temperature is maintained between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Foxglove plants require watering about twice a week to keep the soil moist but not soaking wet.
  • Check the soil regularly at about 2 inches deep before watering. If you find them dry at that depth, this will indicate that you need to water them.
  • Tie a stake a few inches from the base of your plants. It will act as a support stick, particularly if you place them in your terrace garden where strong wind blows regularly.
  • Cut the wilted spike back to its base using the pruning shears after removing spent flowers individually.
  • If you find some aphids or mealybugs in the plants, you can spray them with insecticidal soap or hydrogen peroxide solutions once a week until the pests are all gone.

Pests And Diseases

Foxglove is a versatile type of plant but is also susceptible to various diseases like powdery mildew due to over-watering and crowded garden spaces. Here are a few common problems:

  • Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew forms in dusty white patches and you will find them on the upper or lower foliage of your foxgloves, which causes them to die and fall off.

Mildew usually appears in shady conditions where temperatures are only 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Bacteria develops and spreads the infection as they drift to the other plants when the wind blows.

How to prevent this:

To prevent powdery mildew from developing in your plants, let your foxgloves receive an adequate amount of sunlight. Bring them outside to receive sunlight if you are growing them indoors. Sunlight is key!

Also, splashing the leaves with water will help eradicate powdery mildew as spores die in water.

Over-fertilization also encourages the development of powdery mildew. Feed just the right amount of fertilizer to provide nutrients around the plants. Always check and apply products according to the package instructions.

  • Aphids and Mealybugs

Both aphids and mealybugs feed on plant sap in clusters on foxglove stems and leaves. In small numbers, they won’t cause much damage to the plants. However, in large composites, they can damage leaves and slow the plant’s growth.

How to prevent this:

Frequently checking the plants will help prevent the problem of mealybugs and aphids. By looking into the plant’s nook and crannies, you will find these insects and able to wash them off with water.

You can pick them off by hand too, or snip off damaged leaves with the use of pruning shears. (Don’t forget to disinfect your pruning shears afterward to prevent the spread of infection when you use the tool on other plants)

The use of a hydrogen peroxide solution is also an excellent alternative spray to eliminate other diseases like Japanese beetles and leaf spots.

Overall, the best way to prevent these issues is to give your foxglove plants the right amount of water and sunlight they need.

Using a soaker hose will lessen the possibility of plants drowning every time you find the soil in your garden is dry. Also, provide spacing at least 12 inches apart to achieve better air circulation.

How to Sow from Seed

Sow your chosen seeds as early in the year as possible.

If you are sowing the seeds outside try to sow by early to mid August. This allows the young plants to establish themselves before the winter temperatures hit.

Plants can also be started in containers and over-wintered undercover in cold frames or a greenhouse. You can plant out plants started undercover in early April, once the soil has warmed and the last frost has passed.

Seeds can be sown in trays or small 4 inch pots aim to sow one seed per pot. These KORAM Seed Starter Trays come with a plastic cover allowing you to maintain the temperature around your seeds and encourage germination. Fill your chosen container with fresh, good quality seed compost.

If you are sowing straight into the flower bed, work the soil over before planting. As you dig the soil, remove any weeds and stones.

Level the soil and dampen before sowing. Seeds stick to damp soil meaning that they are less likely to be disturbed by the wind. Sow as thinly as possible, pressing the seeds into the soil. Clusters of seedlings can be thinned out following germination.

Do not cover the seeds. Foxglove seeds require light to germinate. Water gently with a fine spray. A plastic spray bottle is ideal.

If you are sowing in containers, cover the pots or trays with a plastic lid, or place in a sheltered position such as in a shaded cold frame. The temperature should average 60 to 65 °F. If you have nowhere covered that is cool enough place the trays in a sheltered position in the shadow of the north side of a wall. Avoid placing the trays in a warm or overly bright position.

Seeds sown in the ground can be protected by a cloche, such as the SYITCUN Protective Garden Cloche, or a mini-cold frame. Remember to also protect the seeds from snails and slugs.

You can also sow seeds in January, undercover for planting out later the year. These may flower in the first year. However seeds sown later, from March onwards, are unlikely to flower until the second year.

Keep the soil moist. In ideal conditions, germination occurs within 21 days.

When large enough, thin the seedlings out to a spacing of about 12 inches. As you prick out the clusters, discard any weaker seedlings, allowing only the strongest to remain. If you are growing hybrid varieties, don’t discard all the weaker seedlings. These, if they survive, often produce more interesting colors and stronger seedlings.

Once the seedlings are large enough to handle, pot them on into individual small pots filled with fresh general purpose compost.

Foxglove is a stunning flower with tubular blossoms that have speckled throats. The plant creates a dramatic effect with its tall spires of flowers.

Common foxglove is a biennial, which means they form a rosette and leaves in their first year, bloom in their second year, and then die. Foxglove reseed easily, so plant foxgloves two years in a row for flowering plants. Also, new perennial varieties of foxglove have been developed that flower in year one.

In a flower bed, foxglove can grow up to 5 feet, so they tend to look best at the back of the flower bed. Ensure the planting location has rich, neutral to slightly acid soil with good drainage. It should be planted while temperatures are still slightly cool.

Please note: All parts of foxglove are poisonous. Historically, compounds from the plant have been used in heart medication depending on the species, ingestion of Digitalis can induce symptoms ranging from nausea to cardiac arrythmia.


Foxglove prefers moist, well-drained soil high in organic matter and grows best in full sun with light afternoon shade.

If you don’t have rich soil, add compost and mulch the area well.

Set bigger container plants out in spring or fall.

  • Prepare the soil by mixing in a 3- to 4-inch layer of compost.
  • Space containers 1 to 2 feet apart.
  • Dig the hole twice the diameter of the container the plant is in.
  • Place the plant in the hole with the top of the root ball level with the soil surface.
  • Fill in around the root ball and firm the soil.
  • Water thoroughly.

Foxglove is easy to grow from seed.

  • Sow seeds outside in containers in late-spring or sow seeds in late summer in the garden where plants are desired to grow.
  • Seeds need light to germinate, so do not cover.

Any seedlings should be planted into the garden bed in early fall so that they can establish the root system before cold weather arrives.

Foxglove Plant Facts – How To Grow And Care For Foxgloves?

Foxglove Plants (Digitalia Purpurea) are ornamental biennials or perennials belonging to the family Plantaginaceae. This genus is native to Southwestern and Western Europe and has elongated finger shaped flowers. Flowers are produced on long spikes and the colour mix unveil, a soothing combination from pink to purple, red, yellow, cream or white. Some varieties have many conspicuous darker spots, you can spot these interlining the bottom lip to the throat of each flower. Depending on the variety the spike may reach to a height of 6 feet. A single spike may have 2-80 flowers. Foxgloves flower during late spring and flowering lasts through summer. These plants flower up a magnificent display to the home garden. These old fashioned beauties are at home to a warm sheltered position, planted in an English cottage garden . Foxgloves can also be grown in pots or containers. All plant parts are toxic when consumed and it is necessary to keep children and pets away from this plant. Australian animals that live in the bush such as rabbits, kangaroos and possums never touch foxgloves and know to keep well away from this plant because of the same reason. On the other hand, foxgloves make gorgeous fresh cut flowers, in arrangements if the flowers are detached from the plant when the flowers are half opened.

Growing Conditions

These species thrive well in full sun, partial sunlight or in well-shaded areas. If the summers are hot the plant may need more shade. They require nutrient rich acidic soils which are well draining. The best time to plant Foxgloves is from starting of spring to early summer when the soil starts to warm up. The plant needs good drainage for an outstanding performance, as water logging can cause root rot. It is better to start the plant from seeds from a seed packet or seedlings from a punnet. If flowers are allowed to mature and drop seeds, thinning the seedlings to provide at least 18 inches of space between the seedlings is necessary, for proper growth. During the first year of life, this biennial will produce only leaves. During the second year, the flowering stem, flowers, and seeds appear.

Caring for Foxglove Plants

Once sown, keep the seeds of Foxgloves moist. Once the plants get established, the plant requires moderate watering. You can water them when the soil becomes dry, as they are resentful of dry periods and dried out soils. Due to their height, the Foxgloves plants tend to droop down and may need some support to keep them upright. Deadheading the plant can reduce the spreading the plants to small colonies or to every part of the garden. Removing the spent flowers also encourage re-blooming and cause flowering even late in the season. You can fertilise the plant with blood and bone or by using seaweed fertiliser during early spring. Staking the tall plants help them to stay upright.


Propagation of Foxgloves can be done by using seeds or by the division of clumps. When growing from seeds care should be taken not to cover the seeds with soil after sowing them.

  • Situate and sow the seeds in soil enriched with light compost or in seed raising mix.
  • Thinning out the seedlings after germination prevents overcrowding of the plants.
  • Seedlings started inside can be transplanted during late winter into the garden.
  • If you are sowing them directly in the garden bed sow them in spring.
  • In ideal conditions, foxgloves are reliable at self seeding.

The division of large clumps of Foxgloves can be done during late winter when the new growth starts to appear. If you are starting the plant from seedlings, make sure you select healthy ones with robust leaves. Once again enjoy these flowers if you grow them, BUT DO NOT EAT Them!

Uncommonly Captivating

If you’re intrigued by the whimsical tubular blossoms and intricate throat patterns of D. purpurea, it’s time to add it to your garden planner.

Remember that the ideal placement is a partially shaded location with organically-rich, slightly acidic, well-draining soil.

I’ve never forgotten my first foxglove. It was about two feet tall and the color of orange sherbet. This was back in the day when I didn’t save all the tags, so the cultivar name is lost to me. But like the frosty summer treat, I savor the sweet memory of it.

For a host of captivating blooms and a color palette any artist would envy, it’s just got to be the anything-but-common foxglove.

Are you growing foxgloves in your garden? Let us know in the comments below!

If you enjoyed reading about these showy flowers with exceptional vertical appeal, you’ll want to read these guides next:

© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photos via Burpee. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.

About Nan Schiller

Nan Schiller is a writer with deep roots in the soil of southeastern Pennsylvania. Her background includes landscape and floral design, a BS in business from Villanova University, and a Certificate of Merit in floral design from Longwood Gardens. An advocate of organic gardening with native plants, she’s always got dirt under her nails and freckles on her nose. With wit and hopefully some wisdom, she shares what she’s learned and is always ready to dig into a new project!


Previous Article


Next Article