I have not yet successfully grown foxgloves, the quintessential cottage-garden plant. Three times I have tried this elusive plant from nursery started plants. I have tried three different locations so far.
Dreaming of that cottagey look, first I grew it along my garage wall near my climbing roses where it had a southern exposure. It bloomed well but not as tall as I’d hoped and did not return for a second year. The next time I grew it on the NE corner of my house near a vintage climbing rose. In the second year I saw a rosette of its leaves form but it only achieved spindly, nonflowering growth. The next time I bought a plant at Fellows Riverside Garden’s (FRG) plant sale where I was assured it was the biennial type. I grew it in its original pot with a southern exposure once more. It did seed itself around the container but the following spring the plants were once again gone.
I have once again succumbed to the siren call of the charming flower spikes that could easily be worn by any fox so inclined. I again purchased a plant at FRG’s plant sale because I love it and I don’t think I’ve provided poor growing conditions but rather failed to ensure correct conditions for propagation.
This time I researched foxglove propagation in my copy of The American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation book. I’m guessing the failure to return has to do with the conditions I have provided for propagation. Plant Propagation says “…foxgloves require a temperature of 70°F (21°C) in light to germinate…” I am paying special attention to the “in light” part of this recommendation. I’m thinking that the self-sown seeds have never had enough light to germinate since my plants are tightly packed. So I plan two new methods to help germination.
- I will find a more open spot for the foxglove
- I will collect seed and sow it myself
Maybe this year I will be successful; I won’t know until 2013. Gardening is all about waiting and watching. I can only paraphrase Thomas Jefferson “Though I am an old [wo]man, I am but a young gardener.” I am, after all, a Work In Progress Gardener.