The classic cottage garden plant, foxgloves are a staple in many UK gardens. But what should you do with them once the flowers are spent? Let’s have a look and find out.
What To Do With Foxgloves After Flowering?
While there are perennial foxgloves the vast majority you see in UK gardens are biennial. This means that they live for two years and will only flower in the second year.
Once they are done flowering in the second year they will die off and not grow back again. So you can cut back second-year foxgloves as soon as they have finished flowering and you have already deadheaded them once.
Deadhead To Promote Second Flowering
The first thing to do with any foxglove once it has finished flowering for the first time is to cut the spent flower spike off at the base of the plant.
This will prompt the plant to create a second flush of flowers so you get to enjoy your foxglove all over again.
The second flowering is always smaller, and it doesn’t always happen, although it will do for most plants.
Let Them Self Seed
You can let your foxgloves go to seed and then let them self seed. Foxgloves are renowned self-seeders so if you let the flowers go to seed you will normally find new plants growing next spring.
Due to the biennial nature of foxgloves self-seeding is a good way to make sure you always have some plants in year one (Growing) of their life and some in year two (flowering).
If you plant foxgloves for two years in a row then you will get into a natural cycle where the plants seed themselves and you have some growing but not flowering and some flowering and going to seed, meaning you have foxgloves to enjoy every year.
Removing The Plants
If you have a crowded border then it may be a good idea to completely remove your foxgloves once they have finished flowering.
Being biennials they are just taking up valuable border space after they have flowered, been deadheaded and flowered again so they can just be removed to give other plants space to thrive.
If you are growing your foxgloves staggered, with some plants one-year-old and ready to flower next year and some flowering this year, then make sure you only remove the second-year plants!
This sounds obvious but it is really easy to get caught up with removing the plants and accidentally remove some which were due to flower next year.
What to do With Dead Plant Material
You will see many people online telling you not to put dead foxglove flower heads in your compost heap as the seeds will stay there and you will then spread them around your garden.
While this is technically true it only matters if you cold compost. If you use hot composting methods then the heat will be enough to kill the seeds, as it does with all weed seeds.
This is why hot composting is such a good idea, and it’s not hard to do. You just need to make a big heap, use a mix of brown and green materials and turn it regularly.
Save The Seed
You can also save the seed from your foxgloves when you remove the spent flowers. This is great if you plan on growing some fresh plants from seed to grow in a different area of your garden.
More On Foxgloves
Foxgloves (Digitalis) is a flowering plant that actually contains biennials, perennials and shrubs all under the common name foxglove.
These plants are native to Europe and even parts of northern Africa, they are woodland plants and as such love a little bit of shade.
As most people are aware foxgloves are poisonous if digested. The active ingredient in foxgloves that makes them poisonous also works as a medicine as as such numerous drugs are made using foxgloves.
Fatalities are rare from foxgloves but they do occur and for this reason, it is important to take care when gardening with foxglove, wear gloves when handling them and make sure you avoid touching your eyes or mouth after handling them.
Most fatalities actually occur when the plant has been mistaken for something else and digested in large quantities.
There have also been numerous reports of young children dying after drinking the vase water that foxgloves have been in. This is definitely something to think about if you plan on using them as a cut flower and your house has children or grandchildren in it!