Foxgloves are an easy-going traditional cottage garden plant that will grow in full sun or shade and do well in most soils. They look particularly attractive when they are allowed to self seed and naturalise, creating drifts of tall flowering spikes and are very attractive to bees and some moths. This is the natural source of the drug digitalis, which is used to treat heart conditions.
Some of the most common garden flowers have fascinating histories and symbolic meanings. Flowers have been associated with symbolism for thousands of years. Flowers are a significant part of our lives from birth to death. Many popular garden flowers including foxglove, lupines, poppies, sunflowers, sweet peas, tulips and zinnias are associated with a treasure trove of stories and mythologies.
Foxglove flowers have both positive and negative symbolic meanings. They are said to sometimes hurt and sometimes heal. In the language of flowers, foxglove flowers are associated with insincerity. On the positive side, the common name is said to come from "folk's gloves," with "folk" referring to helpful fairy folk.
In medieval gardens dedicated to Mother Mary, foxglove was called "Our Lady's Gloves" or "Gloves of the Virgin." The scientific name is digitalis, a reference to the presence of powerful chemicals that can heal heart conditions if taken correctly but can kill if taken in large amounts.
Foxglove thrives in soils that are rich in iron and coal. New coalfields can sometimes be located by finding masses of foxgloves growing together. Foxgloves are perennials that thrive in temperate zones and like shade, part shade and sun.
Foxgloves come in white, yellow, pink, rose, red, lavender and purple. Foxglove can be grown either through seeds or divisions of plant clumps. The plants range from 2-6' high depending on the variety.