Foxglove time

June 23rd, 2017 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Foxglove 'Dalmatian Mixed'

I know, of course, that you can pop down to the garden centre about now and still buy foxglove plants in flower. But foxgloves are biennials or, at best short lived perennials, and what do you think is going to happen to those foxglove plants that you buy (often starved) in flower in pots? After they’ve flowered they’ll probably just fade away.

You know the answer: grow your own. And when you can buy two or three packets of seed for the price of one plant in the last phase of its life – well, why wouldn’t you? And now’s the time.

Foxgloves come in two main groups: those whose packets contain hundreds, or even thousands, of seeds and those whose packet contents are measured more in the tens.

In the first group comes the tall slightly unpredictable ‘Excelsior Mixed’, its shorter cousin ‘Foxy Mixed’, the boldly blotched ‘Pam’s Choice’ and the wild foxglove. These you can sow now, outside, in a seed bed. You’ll find guidance with the details of the individual varieties.

You get far fewer seeds of ‘Dalmatian Mixed’ (above, available at a fat discount, as I write) and the lovely ‘Dalmatian Peach’ because they’re far more expensive to produce. These are best sown in pots where it’s easier to keep an eye on them.

And how do you keep them flowering for an extra year or two? Feeding and watering while they’re developing and very prompt dead-heading followed by a good soak and a liquid feed. Actually, the VERY best way is to cut off the first flowering spikes altogether – but I doubt I can persuade you to do that…

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Is one of our best known gardening writers. A graduate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Graham was previously Gardening Correspondent of The Observer.
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