The trumpet-shaped flowers of a foxglove
image by Jcart1534\commons.wikimedia.org
Common foxglove is a hearty biennial plant with 3-to-4-foot stalks lined with trumpet-shaped flowers. The name "foxglove" comes from the older name "folksglove," meaning "fairy glove" because the thimble-sized flowers look like small mittens. Although the leaves of the foxglove are used to make the heart medication digitalis, all parts of the plant are extremely poisonous. Foxglove self-propagates easily, and winterizing your foxglove plants is a simple task that will ensure good blooms the next year.
Plant foxgloves in the fall or early winter, and keep the seeds in a greenhouse or other warm place with lots of natural light. Foxgloves planted in the spring won't flower until the following spring or summer, and seedlings that haven't yet flowered aren't likely to survive very cold winters.
Cut the flower stalks off the foxglove when flowering has finished in fall. If you want it to re-seed or if you want to collect seeds, don't cut off the stalks until the seed pods have dried out.
Spread compost around the foxglove plants after you've removed the stalks, and gently work it into the soil with a digging fork. The compost will help keep the plants warmer, and it will be decomposed and ready to use in the spring. This is a good time to add any fertilizer or soil amendments you wish to use. Remember that foxgloves prefer slightly acidic soil.
Put down mulch to protect the foxglove plants in the winter, and spread it around with a rake. Mulch protects both the soil and the plants, and helps them retain moisture. The mulch will also protect any seeds that have fallen into the soil, encouraging new foxglove plants to grow.