Freaky Foxglove

Foxgloves are easily grown from seed and often volunteer in the garden. The tiny seedlings come up quickly and grow fast. I keep them in flats until they’re big enough to plant in the garden.

All parts of the plant are toxic. Deer (aka rats with hooves) won’t touch them. They’re a mainstay in a flower bed in my front yard once known as the deer buffet.

Biennials like foxgloves only live for two years. They grow foliage the first year, bloom the second year, and then die. One (maybe two) of my foxgloves is three years old.

I waited until midsummer 2022 to start foxglove seed. They came up well enough, but were quickly crowded out after planting by surprisingly robust marigolds. The sole survivor was planted in a small bed beneath the mailbox. It never bloomed last year, but continued to grow all summer. By fall, it was huge.

After a month or so of dormancy, the now three-year-old biennial grew even more. I couldn’t wait to see super-sized flower stalks. Then I learned via the internet that three-year-old foxgloves rarely bloom.


Another foxglove appeared in the overcrowded bed last fall. Since it was much smaller than the big guy, I figured it was a volunteer from a previous season. The number of stalks makes me think it may be a second survivor. I can’t say for sure so we’re calling it a volunteer.

After it bloomed, the absence of any sign of bloom on the big foxglove suggested the internet information was correct. The mailbox box flower bed is prime real estate. I considered replacing the foxglove, but didn’t because three-year-old biennials are rare and the foliage looked nice.

Good thing I left it. Several bloom stalks have sprouted. Once again, I can’t wait to see the blooms.

Bloom stalks emerging

The internet can’t be wrong (haha), but one (possibly two) three-year-old foxgloves bloomed this year. Perhaps the delayed planting and mild weather tricked them into ignoring the first winter. We’ll soon see if the blooms are worth waiting the extra year. As always, I’ll keep you posted.

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