HOW TO GROW FOXGLOVES FROM SEED - by Terence Baker
CLICK HERE FOR THE NEW 'GARDEN OF EADEN' WEBSITE
Guest author Terence Baker is the holder of the National Collection of Digitalis. He also runs the Botanical Nursery in Wiltshire.
The Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), so much a part of the British countryside, is perhaps one of the few native plants to be well received in gardens. They do seem to have the ability to spring up almost unnoticed, that is until their towering flower stems dominate the garden. Once there, few gardeners have the heart to remove them, thus insuring more in future seasons, for Foxgloves are great seeders.
.Digitalis purpurea is just one species of a genus containing, depending on which books you read, more than twenty species, geographic variations, hybrids and abnormalities. Some are known and are commercially available garden plants, others are obscure and sought after. Several, as yet, appear to be known only in Botanic Gardens and in the collections of enthusiasts. All are interesting and worthwhile plants. In the main they are hardy but some are resentful of our winter wet, or are naturally so floriferous as to be short lived.
Some species, such as D. grandiflora, x mertonensis, parviflora, are sound perennials especially if divided, which can be tricky! Other such as D. ferruginea are biennial and like so many biennials are best considered monocarpic, that is they die after setting seed, therefore with the exception of sterile hybrids they are best propagated by seed. Seed is available of at least half the species in general cultivation from various seed companies. Many of the rest can be obtained from seed lists of various societies as well as the National Collections, enthusiasts and botanic gardens. The seed is fine, uniformly sized and easy to handle.
When possible it is best collected as soon as the capsule splits. When ripe the best and most viable seed will fall easily into a paper envelope, any that remain may not be of such good quality and attempting to dislodge it may well cause the good seed to be polluted with capsule debris, a potential hazard.
Once collected there is much to be said for sowing some as soon as possible, the seed is generally ready by early August and sowing at this time allows the young plants to become established before any hard weather. Such sowings may be over-wintered in a well ventilated cold frame or, in the case of less hardy species, a frost free glasshouse, for planting out in early April.
.Depending on the quantity required, 4 inch (10cm) half pots or seed trays may be used. A seed tray will easily accommodate several hundred seedlings, far more than the average gardener requires even to support local NCCPG or other sales. Do not sow too thickly. Ideally the young plants should not touch. A good quality seed compost should be used, this should be levelled and gently firmed in the usual way. Once sown do not cover the seed as Digitalis require light for germination, this accounts for the failure described by some gardeners. The seed should be lightly pressed into the compost. I prefer to water-in overhead with a very fine rose watering can. Watering overhead is preferred as a general rule because this can reduce any germination inhibitors that adhere to the seed of some genera. If you would prefer not to use a can, then the sown pots may be stood in a shallow depth of water, once the surface of the compost darkens the container should be removed, the compost should not be allowed to become sodden.
.The containers should be covered with clean glass. If the seed is sown in late summer a shaded cold frame or cool greenhouse is a suitable environment, or the north side of a wall; high temperatures should be avoided. If the seed is to be spring sown it should be stored in a dry paper bag or envelope which must be kept cool and dry under which conditions the seed lasts well. Long term deep refrigerated storage in a sealed container with silica gel is possible, this should last indefinitely.
Spring sown seed usually in March is sown in the same way, preferably in a frost-free glasshouse. Earlier sowing in January will produce plants which may well flower the first year from seed. Such sowing should be made in a warm glasshouse or propagator kept at 60-65°F (15-18°C). Whichever way is chosen the resulting plants should be pricked out. In the case of species the strongest should be chosen. With hybrids try retaining some of the weakest plants as these occasionally produce the most interesting colours. Both should be potted into small pots.
Alternatively seed can be sown directly into the flowering position and if kept moist germination takes about 21 days and, when large enough, the resulting seedlings may be thinned to stand about 12 inches (30cm) apart. Generally the species will come true from seed, however hybrids and forms will intercross; parent plants should be isolated to avoid confusion.
Source of article Growing From Seed - Winter 188-89 Vol. 3 Number 1 © The Seed Raising Journal from Thompson & Morgan.
For related articles click onto:
Bird of Paradise Flower
How to Collect and Prepare Hardy Passion Flower Seed for Sowing
How to Compost
How to Grow Agapanthus
How to Grow Agapanthus from Seed
How to Grow Agave from Seed
How to Grow Amaryllis from Seed
How to Grow the Angel's Trumpet from Seed
How to Grow Auriculas from Seed
How to Grow Autumn Sowings of Sweet Peas
How to Grow Banana Trees from Seed
How to Grow the Bat Plant from Seed - Tacca chantieri
How to Grow Celery from Seed
How to Grow Citrus from Seed
Growing Geraniums from Seed
How to Grow Dahlias from Seed?
How do you Grow Hellebores from Seed
How to Grow Lavender from Seed
How to Grow Lobelia from Seed?
How to Grow Eucomis Plants from Seed
How to Grow Geraniums from Seeds
How to Grow the Glory Lily (Gloriosa superba) from Seed
How to Grow Hardy Passion Flowers from Seed
How to Grow Himalayan Blue Poppy - Meconopsis betonicifolia from Seed
How to Grow a Lemon Tree from Seed
How to Grow Crocus from Seed
How to Grow Native Wild Primroses and Polyanthus from Seed
How to Grow Pansies from Seed
How to Grow Petunias from Seed
How to Grow the Pyrethrum Daisy from Seed
How to Grow Roses from Seed
How to Grow the Sago Palm from Seed
How to Grow Tulips?
How to Plant Bamboo
How to Propagate Bamboo?
How to propagate and Grow Eucomis from Leaf Cuttings
How to Propagate and Grow Mistletoe
How to Propagate Box Hedging
How to Propagate Cowslips and Primroses
How to propagate Daffodils and Narcissus
How to Propagate Dahlias
How to Propagate and Grow Mistletoe
How to Propagate Hellebores
How to Propagate Hyacinths
How to Propagate Snowdrops
How to Propagate the Saffron Crocus
How to Propagate Tulips
How to Take Cuttings from Bamboo
How to Take Cuttings from Grape Vines
How to Take Honeysuckle Cuttings
How to take Cuttings from Roses
How to Take Hardwood Cuttings
Tetrapanax papyrifera 'Rex'
The Bat Plant
The Black Rose
The Blue Poppy
The Banana Tree
The Dragon Lily
The Giant Amazon Water Lily
The Lemon Tree
The Monkey Puzzle Tree - Araucaria araucana
The Snake's Head Fritillary - Fritallaria meleagris
The Titan Arum
What is Agave?
What is Bamboo?
What is Composting?
What is an F1 Hybrid?
What is a Yucca?
When to Plant Lavender?
When to Prune Roses?