Plant Spotlight: A Perennial Foxglove
Updated: Mar 31, 2022
Area gardeners lament that there are really no perennials that bloom with gracefully tall flower stalks to use as accents in their gardens. Delphiniums and lupines quickly succumb to our hot, humid summers. Hollyhocks are OK, but unsightly leaf rust and a short blooming season limit their effect in the garden. (They ARE a host plant for Painted Lady butterflies though!) Foxgloves are more reliable, but they are biennial, needing two years to bloom from seed and then dying completely. If you're lucky, they will reseed.
So, it’s great news that there is now a truly perennial foxglove that thrives in our area, blooms from late spring to late summer with nodding, tubular rose-pink blooms on tall, stately stems, AND survives our winters, being hardy to -20º. The variety is ‘Arctic Fox Rose’ foxglove hybrid from Darwin Perennials. Attracting pollinators, butterflies, and hummingbirds, it’s also deer resistant and frost tolerant. Plant in full sun for the best show, and dead-heading faded spikes encourages new bloom.
This foxglove is available at garden centers, but if you can find seeds, ‘Arctic Fox Rose’ will bloom the first year from seed! So, keep a look out for this very welcome perennial. Hopefully, this field-tested variety will prove to be a valuable addition to our gardens.
NOTE: There is a really hard-to-find perennial foxglove that’s been around for years, but seldom seen for sale. It’s the Yellow Foxglove, Digitalis grandiflora, native to Europe. As the Latin name implies, it has large pendant flowers and is one of the toughest and best performing foxgloves for the garden.