Foxglove from seeds--now? Any tips?

sureturtleJuly 18, 2007

I just harvested some foxglove seeds. I wonder if I should sow them now, or should I freeze the seeds for a while (how long?) and sow them? If latter, will there be enough time for them to establish to survive the winter?

I did try winter sow this January, in milk jugs, and was careful to sow them on the surface (for I read the seeds need light to germinate). Sadly, none germinated. The seeds included fresh bought Foxglove Camelot Rose F1 Hybrid (first year flowering type), and the seeds I collected from my plants. What could I have done wrong?

Looking forward to hearing from veterans. There are always so many generous and thoughtful help on this forum. Thanks in advance.

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joyfulsnowflake(Zone 4)

The foxglove seeds I sow didn't germinate either. I did direct sow in the spring. Nothing came up. I'd also like some tips.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 12:00PM
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I've only had luck on indoor sowing my foxglove seeds. Two years of winter sowing them and nothing, so will only do indoor sowing now. I start early in winter and usually have some decent size babies to put in the ground. They bloom late summer for me. I have yet to have a foxglove survive winter in my garden, but I know a few people that have.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 7:32AM
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I started the 'Foxy' variety (first year blooms) indoors three years ago.

Those orginal plants flowered, set seed and died. I've had volunteers come up the past two years. They bloom reliably in mid-August.

The seedlings transplant easily when they're very small so you can place them where you want them. Usually I just let them go. I love volunteer plants.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 3:11PM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

I've grown many varieties of Digitalis from seed and this works well for me. Surface sow only, don't cover the seed since they need light for germination. They also germinate best at temps between 60-65 F. Too warm and they may not sprout. I've always started them indoors, under lights, late winter.

With that said, I've given up on the biennial or perennial types. They grow great the first season, but rarely survive winters for me. Foxy is another story. If you start them inside as stated above, they bloom the same season. Once the flowers fade, cut them off and they'll rebloom. Of course they won't survive our winters, so you have to start them each year or wait for the volunteers to grow and bloom. They really are nice plants.


    Bookmark   July 21, 2007 at 3:54PM
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kristal(3b MN)

I winter sow Foxgloves with great success.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 12:28AM
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julie_mn(z4 MN Henn)

I too wintersow digitalis with great success- although- I too have mostly given up on Foxglove- as most will never survive through the winter in my yard as well. The perennial varieties will fare better than the biennial types- although they are very short lived as well-
My wintersowing this year was not typical- several things did not do well for me- which is not usual. I had germination early of several things in those hot days in March- and then 10 days of below freezing weather knocked the life right out of them. The only things that really did well were those that I started late- or those that typically germinate later in the spring like aquilegia/columbines.
I have heard from a few gardeners this year, that start several perennial plants from fresh seed as soon as it ripens. Typically, seeds that seem to require cold stratification. It makes me wonder if freshly harvested/gathered seed nullifies the need of cold/warm strat- I am experimenting with a few seeds this year- but I am not having much success with them outdoors just yet- I will move the containers indoors to the cooler basement soon- to see if that will help. Then- I will plant out as they are ready- to see if they make it through the winter as such youngsters.
You could experiment too- but knowing that foxgloves like to germinate in cooler weather and need light to germinate- I would start them under lights in the basement- and if you really wanted to insure success- plant them in moist peat- and put the pot into a ziplock bag- and stick them in the fridge for a few weeks- then put under lights in the basement- and plant out as soon as possible into a well prepared area- and water and nurture till the ground freezes. Hopefully they will grow enough roots to make it through the winter for you- Do not fertilize the babies- as you want roots to grow- not foliage.
Good luck to you!


    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 9:55AM
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Hey everyone! I bought a packet of the Foxglove seed at Home Depot today. I scattered a few in the little bit of dirt I have available outside. I didn't cover them up but I did pat them down to try to get them to stay in place to water them. I was wondering if someone could tell me what biennials are? I'm new to all of this so any information would be great. Thanks

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 8:40PM
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I'm a foxglove fanatic, often a frustrated one here in Ramsey County, but with some successes. Here's what I do:

⢠grow all seeds, perennial and biennial varieties under lights in late winter. When sprouted, seedlings go into a flat; then, when it's warm enough in my greenhouse (40ð minimum, with some heat), around mid-March, they go in there.

⢠The perennial types, like digitalis grandiflora (yellow, also shorter variety, 'Carillon'), go right into the garden and usually survive; if they get through their first winter, you have them for good.

⢠The biennials, or those for which the claim is made that they bloom their first year, I usually grow on in small pots over the summer and then plant them in my cold frame for the winter. In spring they move into the garden to bloom, hopefully. After that, I leave them to self-sow (which some do) or come back the following spring (which some do).

This is the only way I've managed to have this wonderful plant around year after year. You don't need a greenhouse, but I do recommend the cold frame, and here are two tips: (1) the soil in the frame MUST be exceedingly well-drained. I use a fair amount of loose compost and sharp sand; (2) after the first hard freeze I fill the entire frame soil to bottom of covers (mine are plexiglas with hinges) with loose, dry leaves). I also cover the plexiglas covers with evergreen boughs, which collect snow and prevent warm-ups and heaving in spring.

This year, I had perfect survival, even of a variety called 'Red Skin' See this thread:

One final point: In my experience the single most important thing you can do, especially if you're attempting to overwinter them outside in the garden, is to give them very well-drained conditions, the principal enemy being root rot.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 9:51AM
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