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How to Prune Foxgloves

Foxglove, known botanically as digitalis, is a biennial flowering plant grown from seed. Foxglove produces tall bloom spikes in spring and summer and thrives in full sun to partial shade exposures. It is hardy in USDA zones 4 through 8 and likes a nutrient rich and moist growing soil. Required maintenance and pruning is minimal for foxglove and can be completed quickly and easily when needed.

Harvest bloom stalks just when they begin to open for use in long-lived cut flower arrangements. Deadhead fading blooms on the plant to spur new flower production. Cut back the stems to the crown of the plant. Foxglove readily self sows, so do not cut down all blooms. Allow some to die back and release their seed to the ground and wind.

Inspect your foxglove plants regularly when watering, and look for damaged or diseased foliage and stems. Cut back down to the base of the leaf or bloom in question, and discard any material suspected of harboring disease. Other off cuts can be tossed into the compost bin.

Hard prune your foxglove foliage back in the late fall or early winter after the first hard frost when the seeds have been released to the soil. Shear off the dying or dead foliage with your secateurs down to the soil surface and compost them.

Garden Foxgloves

Plant foxglove seeds or plants directly in well-draining soil and full sun or partial shade. Space multiple plants about 1 foot apart. Do not let the soil dry completely. Place a 1-inch layer of organic compost and a 2-inch layer of organic mulch around the base of the plants once they start growing vigorously. Fertilize annually after growth begins in spring with a slow-release low-nitrogen 5-10-5 fertilizer, scattering a handful in a ring around the base of each plant and working it gently into the soil with a cultivator. Repeat the application six weeks later. Reduce watering to every other week as the foxglove foliage dies down in late summer and early fall. Begin watering again in spring when new growth emerges.

Warning

While digitalis is used in commercial pharmacological preparations as an untreated plant; it is poisonous if consumed and can be deadly.

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