The flowers are very rich in nectar and are like magnets for bees and butterflies.
Most foxgloves are biennials, blooming in their second year from seed, or short-lived perennials. Most are more or less evergreen so their rosettes of green leaves remain all winter.
Just be aware that foxgloves contain the chemical digitalin used in medicine to treat heart disease and all parts of the plant are poisonous if eaten. Contact with the foliage can irritate the skin and eyes so wear gloves, especially if you have sensitive skin.
How to grow mittens
Most foxgloves thrive in light or shade, although some species come from the Mediterranean and need a sunny location.
Although foxgloves prefer lighter soils, they grow well in heavy clay soils with added organic matter, such as compost.
Growing Foxgloves from Seed
Foxgloves grow quickly from seed, and the simplest way is simply to scatter the seed directly where you want plants to grow. Do this in late summer, so that the young seedlings have time to harden before winter arrives. You can also sow seed in autumn or early spring in trays filled with multipurpose compost. Here’s how it’s done:
Scatter the seeds over the compost and press down lightly, but don’t cover over with compost, as the seeds need light to germinate.
Water the trays and place them in a frost-free greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill.
Once the seedlings have germinated, prick them out and pot on into individual 9cm pots.
Plant out in spring once all risk of frost is past. Space plants at least 30cm (12in) apart, as they won’t grow tall if overcrowded.
Unless you’re growing perennial foxgloves, you’ll need to plant or sow foxgloves two years in a row to have plants flowering each year.