Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), also known as witches' gloves or fairy thimbles, is a biennial plant that lives out its life cycle in two years. The first year, foxglove produces foliage and stems, and the second year, colorful bell-shaped blooms appear. Foxglove is often grown as a perennial, as the plant reseeds itself every autumn. Winter care is important, especially after the plant's first year. Foxglove is hardy in USDA planting zones 4 to 8.
Cut foxglove down to 2 to 3 inches after the plant is done blooming and the foliage turns yellow, or after the plant is nipped by a hard frost. Avoid cutting foxglove down while the foliage is still green if you want the plant to reseed. Green foliage is especially important after the plant's first season, as the green foliage provides nourishment to the roots for the following year.
Spread 2 to 4 inches of mulch around the plant after the ground freezes in early winter. An organic mulch such as pine needles or bark chips protects the foxglove plant from possible damage caused by repeated freezing and thawing. Avoid leaves, which can become compacted. Apply up to 12 inches of mulch if you live in a cold, northern climate. Circle the plants with chicken wire to contain the mulch. Remove the mulch as soon as the ground thaws in spring.
Water your foxglove plant once every month if moisture isn't provided by rain or snow, as a long, dry period can cause the roots of the plant to die. Water only when the temperature is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Water in the middle of the day so the moisture has time to soak in before evening.
Things You Will Need
- Garden pruners
- Foxglove foliage can be left in place for the winter and cut down before new growth appears in spring. However, the foliage should be cut down in autumn if the plant shows signs of disease or pest infestation.