Digitalis purpurea


The common foxglove is usually a herbaceous biennial, growing a rosette of coarse hairy green leaves the first year then expanding those glorious towers of hooded purple flowers in the second.

Ideal for a shady spot, however easy to adapt to any setting. It brings a fantastic look when grown en masse at the back of a border.

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Origin: temperate Europe
Genus: Digitalis
Species / Cultivar: purpurea
Common Name: Foxglove

Plant Biography

Digitalis purpurea is a species of flowering herbaceous, belonging to a family of over 20 species, widely spread throughout temperate Europe. In its natural habitat, it grows in woodland clearings and mountainsides.

It is a rapid coloniser of newly disturbed ground and, although preferring cool woodland conditions, is adaptable to growing in almost any situation.

The flowers are highly sought after by pollinators, primarily bumblebees, which collect the nectar from the base of the flowers.

Digitalis purpurea
Soil: Well drained
Soil that does not show much signs of moisture, either visibly or when handled.
Growth Rate: Fast
Expect to see prolific growth, especially during growing season.
Water Requirement: Medium
Once it is established, this plant is likely to only require watering during drier periods.
Maintenance: Low
Minimal skill or input needed beyond the basics, a very independent plant.
Situation: Part Shade
Enjoys several hours of direct sunlight but may enjoy dappling or shade at midday.
Eventual Height: 1.0 - 2.0m
The plant's ultimate height in typical growing conditions.
Eventual Spread: 0.3 - 0.5m
The plant's ultimate spread in typical growing conditions.
Hardiness: Hardy
Survives unprotected in an average winter. May need protection in extreme long frosts.
Lifecycle: Biennial
This plant grows from seed to flowering in two seasons and then dies. These usually produce foliage in the first season and flower in the second.

Product note

Please be advised that Digitalis purpurea plants sold by The Palm Centre are usually sold in their first year of life and, as a consequence, they may not bear flowers immediately, but the year after planting.
Care & Size Guidance

Care & Size Guidance

Plant in early spring in back of borders or add to centre of larger planted areas to add vertical interest. Seedlings should be planted about 30 cm apart to allow room to grow. Spacing plants apart also allows air flow between the plants, as they are prone to powdery mildew infection in late summer.

All parts, including seed and pollen, are extremely poisonous and can be fatal if eaten – containing chemical compounds that are used (in careful doses) to treat heart failure.

For that reason it is best to avoid growing the Common Foxglove anywhere near the vegetable garden. When handling Foxglove it’s recommended to use protection, as the contact with leaves can irritate sensitive skin.

Expert Tip

Allow plants to seed before cutting the flowering stem, as this may encourage a second flush of blooms to grow.


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