Growing Guide
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Herbaceous Biennial Flower

Also known as Fairy's Glove, Witches' Gloves, Gloves of Our Lady, Virgin's Glove, Fairy Caps, Folk's Glove, Fairy Thimbles
Digitalis purpurea
Scrophulariaceae Family
Synonym: Digitalis tomentosa

With rich, moist but well-drained soil and partial shade, this garden classic will produce spikes up to 5 feet tall of dainty, two-lipped blooms. 'Foxy' hybrids will bloom the first year from seed. With most other varieties, you can stretch their biennial nature and get them to flower an additional year or so.

Site Characteristics
  • full sun
  • part shade
  • full shade
Prefers part shade, especially during midday.

Soil conditions:

  • requires well-drained soil
  • tolerates damp soil
Tolerates a wide range of soil conditions, except for very wet or very dry. Prefers rich soil that is moist but well-drained.

Hardiness zones:

  • 4 to 8
Plant Traits

Lifecycle: biennial

Can be managed to be a short-lived perennial, producing blooms beyond the second year.

Ease-of-care: easy

Height: 1 to 6 feet

Most grow 3 to 5 feet tall under good conditions.

Spread: 1 to 3 feet

Bloom time:

  • late spring
  • early summer

Flower color:

  • yellow
  • violet
  • white
  • pink

Often with purple spotting inside.

Foliage color: dark green

Foliage texture: medium

Shape: cushion, mound or clump

The leaves form a low-growing rosette.

Shape in flower: flower stalks with upright spikes

The 1- to 5-foot-tall flower stalks bear nodding flowers along their lengths.

Special Considerations
Special characteristics:
  • deer resistant
  • aggressive - Foxgloves self-seeds prolifically.
  • non-invasive
  • not native to North America - Native to woodland edges in Europe and northern Africa.
Special uses:
  • cut flowers
Growing Information
How to plant:

Propagate by seed - Start seeds outdoors in a nursery bed any time after frost danger has passed up until 2 months before the first heavy fall frost. Do not cover, as light aids germination. Transplant the plants to their garden location in the fall or the following spring. Plants readily self-seed.

Days to emergence: 14 to 21

Maintenance and care:
May require staking. Keep soil moist but not soggy.

Deadhead when about three-fourths of the flower spike has faded. Cut back to basal rosettes after flowering has finished. Leave a few flower spikes if you want plants to reseed.

To encourage plants to flower again the following year, cut the flower spikes back before seeds set. Then dig plant and replant new rosettes.

More growing information: How to Grow Perennials

Japanese beetles
Mealy bugs
Southern blight
Fungal leaf spots
Powdery mildew
Root and stem rot
‘Alba’ grows 4 feet tall and bears pure white flowers.

‘Apricot’ grows 4 to 5 feet tall and bears pastel peach flowers with purple spotting inside.

‘Dwarf Temple Bells’ grows 1 to 1.5 feet tall and bears brilliant yellow blooms. Very long flowering period.

'Dwarf Sensation' grows 4 feet tall with dense blooms.

‘Excelsior’ Hybrids grow 5 feet tall and bear very prolific flowers in shades of purple, pink, white and yellow.

'Foxy' Hybrids grow 3 feet tall and bear yellow, white, purple or pink blooms arranged around the flower stems. Flowers first year from seed.

'Giant Shirley' grows 4 to 5 feet tall and bears 3-foot spikes of white, rose or pale pink blooms, often with showy brown spotting.

'Gloxiniodes' grows 6 feet tall and bears salmon, purple, pink, white or yellow flowers with ruffled margins and attractive speckling. Resembles Gloxinia blooms

‘Primrose Carousel’ grows 2.5 feet tall and bears creamy white blooms speckled with wine colored spots inside.

'Sutton's Apricot' bears peach-pink blooms.