The most amazing of garden plants, the foxglove is special in everything: both by its asymmetrical bells in its slender inflorescence, and by the richness of its colors, and by the character of its growth. It does not get lost in rustic, classical or even modern gardens, always and everywhere coping with the role assigned to it. Growing foxgloves is not difficult at all. The main method of their reproduction - growing from seed - will not cause any difficulties even for beginners.
Description of foxgloves
The beautiful foxgloves (Digitalis) are beautifully flowering herbaceous perennials, annuals and biennials with stiff, unbranched, slender shoots that can extend up to 1.5 meters in height. Light green, oval-lanceolate large leaves with slightly wrinkled surface look very ornate, though inferior in beauty to flowering.
Top unilateral spikes with irregular bells covered with dark dots and spots look elegant, bright and majestic at the same time. Foxglove blooms span the entire summer, ending in August and starting just after the spring stars. After flowering, bolls of fruits with brown, rather small seeds (up to 10,000 seeds in 1 g) are set.
Foxglove yellow (Digitalis lutea), Foxglove large-flowered (Digitalis grandiflora), Foxglove (Digitalis ciliata) and Foxglove woolly (Digitalis lanata) and all gardeners' favorite Foxglove purple (Digitalis purpurea) are the most popular foxglove species. Despite significant differences in flowering and even longevity, they all propagate in the same way.
Foxglove seeds and their selection for sowing
Foxglove seeds are easy to collect yourself. But it is not possible to collect them all at once: the seeds of foxglove mature unevenly. They are collected in the same way, gradually removing ripe, browned or yellowed capsules, starting from the bottom of the inflorescences. The quality of foxglove seeds decreases as you move up through the inflorescences, so you can limit your collection to only picking the bolls at the bottom. You need to have time to collect the seeds before they begin to spill out.
Collect a huge number of small seeds from a single plant, which germinate the better the fresher they are used. Although the germination rate is reduced to 50%, it persists for 2 to 3 years. Collected bolls of foxglove fruits are dried in a dry, ventilated room, and only then extract the seeds from them. Store them, protecting them from light, heat and high humidity.
When buying seeds of Foxglove, it is better to trust proven producers. Often under the name of variety foxgloves from cheap seeds grow quite different plants, species are replaced one by another, and their characteristics are not accurate. Choosing growers you know, proven on seeds of other perennial and summer species, will reduce the risk of a bad purchase. But the key is still to check the timing and time of collection: it is better to buy seeds of foxglove harvested in the current or last year.
Pre-treatment of foxglove seeds
Foxglove seeds need no additional treatment - stratification or freezing. But a simple soaking can speed up the process of sprouting and make them friendlier. Some flower growers recommend soaking the seeds for 1 week, but a shorter treatment will also improve their germination.
Sowing foxglove into the soil
The easiest way to get this magnificent plant is to sow the seeds in spring. It is better to improve the soil in advance, and before sowing, just loosen it slightly and water abundantly. Sowing foxglove can be done either directly on the place of cultivation or in seedbeds with transferring the plants to their intended places at the end of May. The seeds of foxglove are not scattered in furrows but in rows, as sparsely as possible, with sufficiently wide row spacing. If sowing is carried out on the place of cultivation, the seeds are scattered in rows at a distance of 35-45 cm from each other, spreading them very sparsely, 8-15 cm apart. On top of foxglove seeds are covered with a thin layer of sand, peat or soil. If the seeds were not soaked before sowing, it's better to cover them with non-woven fabric (take it off as soon as seedlings appear).
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So dense sprouts thin out as soon as seedlings of foxglove have become slightly stronger, leaving about 5 cm between the plants for rearing. If sown infrequently, thinning is not necessary. The soil for young foxgloves is kept consistently slightly moist by careful watering.
If there is dry, sunny weather, shade can be provided for slowly developing plants. Otherwise, care is limited to weed control. On a permanent place foxgloves are transplanted with a distance of 25-30 cm between the plants. As the plants develop very slowly, their transfer is carried out not earlier than a month and a half after thinning.
Growing digitalis through seedlings
Fingerberry can be sown not only in the soil, but also in seedlings. This method allows you to control the conditions of seed germination and keep the young plants by providing them with optimal picking. There is nothing complicated about the seedling method, but it is used less frequently than sowing directly into the soil.
Soil and containers for sowing foxglove
Any shallow wide containers and universal substrate can be used for foxglove.
Sowing Foxglove seeds
Unlike sowing into the soil, you need to sow seeds of Foxglove in early spring - in the first or second decade of March.
Technique of sowing Foxglove:
- Containers are filled with soil, gently smooth it out.
- Soil is moistened with a sprayer.
- Seeds are scattered (as sparingly as possible) on the surface of the substrate, trying to avoid dense seeding.
- Soil is carefully covered with sand or sifted substrate, creating the thinnest possible layer.
- Containers are covered with film or glass.
Conditions for the germination of seeds of foxglove
Foxglove needs only a bright place and room temperatures to appear in 2-3 weeks. For foxgloves preferably scattered lighting with protection from direct sunlight. Airing is carried out daily, the soil is moistened as necessary.
Before foxglove seedlings have formed their first pair of leaves, the soil is gently moistened, keeping it lightly moist. Remove glass or film immediately after sprouting. Lighting and temperature leave the same.
Keeping seedlings and care for young foxgloves
Keeping is carried out as soon as two or three true leaves are formed. The plant is transferred to a large crate with a distance of 5-7 cm between the seedlings or in individual containers.
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Forte seedlings spend systematic watering, maintaining a light moisture content of the soil. If the soil is compacted, it is gently loosened. Seedlings should be kept in bright but diffused light and protected from sudden temperature changes.
Hardening foxglove seedlings
Foxglove seedlings are better to harden during 1 - 2 weeks, gradually increasing its time outdoors.
Planting Foxglove seedlings
Foxglove seedlings are cold tolerant plants. The seedlings can be transferred into the soil as early as May, when the threats of strong permanent frosts are over. For the middle zone it is better to transplant in the end of May. In places with shade flowering is less spectacular. Foxglove is not afraid of draughts. The soil should be loose and fertile, not damp.
Foxgloves can be planted in rows and in individual holes. The optimal distance to neighboring plants is 25 to 30 cm. The clod when planting should be preserved, trying to avoid any contact with the roots. After planting, foxgloves are watered abundantly.
Young plants are cared for in the same way as the adult foxgloves, not forgetting about weeding, watering during prolonged drought, as well as loosening the soil. From the second year onwards, plants can be given 1-2 fertilizers per season with full mineral fertilizers. Removal of fading inflorescences stimulates the growth of new ones.
Foxgloves do not need winter protection even in the first year after planting. Because of the tendency to bare roots, autumn preparation for winter is reduced to the careful sprinkling of soil to the base of bushes.
Alternative methods of foxglove propagation:
- separation of daughter root rosettes from base of mother plant (formation of daughterlings is stimulated by cutting flower stalk before beginning of fructification);
- sowing in summer or in the beginning of autumn with saving seedlings in winter in cooler rooms.
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