Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) is a biennial plant (or short-lived perennial) that is prized for its tall spires of beautiful, bell-shaped flowers. A native of Europe, foxglove has naturalized in many parts of the United States, where it grows best in zones 5-9. Foxgloves attract pollinators and create a beautiful background for shorter flowers. Here are a few of the best companion plants for foxglove flowers.
What is Companion Planting
Companion planting is a method of growing plants close to each other to benefit from their natural synergies. This technique has been around since ancient times.
It is believed that companion planting can improve soil quality, reduce pest infestations, increase yields, and improve overall crop health. There are several benefits of companion planting, such as increased nutrient uptake, improved disease resistance, and better weed control.
Why Foxgloves Make Excellent Companion Plants
With beautiful tall flower stalks, in colors ranging from white to pink, purple and yellow, the foxglove blooms are great hummingbird magnets and create a bee-friendly space.
They are perfect for cottage gardens with their tall showy blooms that can serve as a background for shorter flowers and herbs. They also make a great border plant.
While foxgloves are good for some fruits or vegetables, please keep in mind that they contain digitalis and other cardiac glycosides, which can negatively affect the heart. If you have young children or pets, I’d refrain from planting foxglove plants near edibles.
Foxglove Companion Plants For a Classic Cottage Garden
A serene cottage garden buzzing with bees and blooming flowers is a dream for many gardeners! Here’s what to plant with foxgloves.
1. Roses (rosa sp.)
Both of these European natives grow beautifully together in any English garden. Also, roses are edible, and they can be used in teas or even cosmetics.
2. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
For a herbaceous groundcover, lavender pairs well with foxglove and the other companion plants listed, such as rose. Lavender is part of the mint family, and it is a low-maintenance plant that grows in even poor quality soils.
3. Coral bells (Heuchera)
Heucheras come in many colors and make a great companion for foxgloves.
4. Delphiniums (Delphinium elatum)
Also tall and spiky, delphiniums look great next to dead men’s bells (another name for foxglove).
5. Snapdragons (Antirrhinum)
Do you see a theme? Foxglove flowers look great with other tall bloomers.
I LOVE this delicate combination of pink foxgloves and purple iris! Give it a try in your perennial garden.
Foxglove Companion Plants for an Orchard
Any trees that grow in zones 5-9 can grow well with foxgloves. They will have a symbiotic relationship, with the trees providing adequate shade for the foxglove, and their flowers will attract pollinators to the tree’s fruit.
7. Cherry trees
Cherry trees and similar stone fruit trees require similar water and soil requirements as the foxglove, so they can grow well together. When they are planted together, the cherries will have a higher yield as the foxgloves will attract many pollinators.
8. Apple trees
Apple trees of any variety will benefit from being planted with foxgloves. The fruits will be healthier due to the fungicidal properties of the foxglove plant, and there’s also the benefit of having bees around for pollination.
Grassy Companion Plants For Foxgloves
9. Ferns Tracheophyta)
are fantastic green, grassy plants that grow wonderfully with foxgloves. The vibrant flowers of the foxglove really stand out among the ferns.
If you’re looking for some low-maintenance foliage that grows well with foxgloves, these options might be a great choice.
Grassy plants such as sedges (carex), or Deschampsia make good companions for foxgloves. They help to create a tapestry effect in the garden.
FAQs About Foxgloves
What flowers go well with foxglove?
Flowers that require the same climate and growing conditions will favor foxglove. In addition, the tall foxglove flowers look beautiful with flowers of shorter stature, or even similar heights.
What can you not plant with foxgloves?
There are a few bad companion plants for foxglove: plants that are from incompatible grow zones or soil needs would not do well with foxgloves. For example, you can’t grow succulents with them due to the different watering requirements and sun conditions.
Also, low-growing ground covers like alyssum, periwinkle, or creeping phlox wouldn’t look good with the tall stalks of digitalis.
Can you plant vegetables with foxglove?
While foxglove itself is not edible (and if ingested is harmful to both humans and animals), it does not release its chemicals in the soil and is safely grown with other vegetables. Also, its properties may protect fruits and vegetables from fungus, mold, and mildew. It may stimulate the growth of vegetables such as tomatoes and also attract pollinators.
Where is the best place to plant foxglove flowers?
While foxgloves aren’t picky about where they are planted, they love moist, well-drained soil and they’ll do best in an area that provides morning sun and partial shade later in the day, depending on the foxglove varieties you choose. A woodland garden is the perfect spot for these beauties!
How do you keep foxgloves blooming?
If you want your foxgloves to keep blooming, make sure to deadhead them regularly. This means removing the spent flowers so that the plant can focus its energy on producing new ones. Of course, by deadheading them you’ll miss out on their reseeding, so you need to choose whatever works for you and your garden.
Should foxgloves be cut back?
If you want to encourage fresh growth, you can cut back foxgloves after they finish blooming. Also, during the blooming season, give them a light trimming to remove spent flowers and encourage new growth.
Can foxgloves grow in full shade?
Yes, foxgloves can grow in full shade, but they will produce fewer flowers if they don’t get some sunlight. If you want your foxgloves to be as productive as possible, choose an area that gets partial sun to full shade.
Do foxgloves come back every year?
Yes, the common foxglove is a biennial plant, and easily reseeds itself. They don’t bloom the first year but do so in the second year. So, if you let them reseed themselves, you’ll always have plants that are in their blooming season.