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Purple foxglove flowers (Digitalis purpurea) Digitalis purpurea, ferruginea, & lutea
Purple, Rusty, & Straw Foxglove Varieties

This plant got the name "Folk's Glove" for the Folk who live in the woods, where it likes to grow.  A visionary plant that is one of the baneful herbs, this perennial woodland plant is of Saturn and associated with the Underworld, although some consider it a Venus herb. It has long been a staple of a witch's garden (but also graces cottage gardens) and was grown in medieval gardens as well. All kinds of bees, from honey bees to bumble bees to mason bees, love these flowers; the spots show them where the nectar is. Ruby-throated hummingbirds like this plant too. How to grow it.

Rusty foxglove (digitalis ferruginea)The juice of this magick herb can be ritually collected and placed in the center of a ritual circle in order to commune with Faeries (don't let the juice touch your skin, as it is quite poisonous - we wear latex gloves when working with this plant). You can also plant it by your door to invite the Faery in or carry a sprig to attract Faery protection.

Although now the digitalis family is famous for providing heart medicine, in pre-modern times the leaves were made into a poultice for wounds and sores (however, even a poultice of the leaves can be fatal). This plant is so poisonous that ingesting only .5 gram dried or 2 grams of fresh leaf is enough to kill a person, but it is very bitter, so ingestion is very unlikely; almost all poisonings from digitalis are due to medical administration of the alkaloid in pill form. Still, be careful when handling and do not breathe the smoke. For the least amount of alkaloids, a) grow it in the shade, b) harvest in the fall, after the plant has made seeds, and c) take the lowest leaves on the plant. Digitalis purpurea that has white or light pink flowers is less poisonous than if it has dark pink or purple flowers. This classic cottage garden plant is also known as Witches' Gloves, Dead Men's Bells, Fairy's Glove, Gloves of Our Lady, Bloody Fingers, Virgin's Glove, Fairy Caps, Folk's Glove, and Fairy Thimbles. Top

Straw foxglove (digitalis lutea)

How to grow Foxglove

Foxgloves germinate fairly quickly at room temperature. These are robust seeds. Surface sow and keep moist but not sopping wet (a mister helps). Seeds germinate in 2-3 weeks at 68 F. This plant likes rich, moist soil (so add plenty of compost) and partial shade, like the edges of woodlands. You can plant it in full sun in the North, but be sure there is adequate moisture. It can't take hot weather; water well during dry periods and consider adding a mulch layer to keep the soil moist. Zone 8 is the hottest (unless indicated otherwise). Foxglove forms a rosette the first season and sends up flower spikes the second (sometimes third) season. If your season is long enough, this plant will make seedpods and reseed itself. Wait until the seedpods are completely brown before you harvest the seeds, but watch the developing pods carefully. Foxgloves can release ove one million seeds when ripe. As soon as the head turns brown and can be easily opened, the seeds are ready. Either cut the entire stalk or remove individual heads as they ripen. If you live in an area with hard winters, cut off the flowers as soon as they are finished. The plant won't make any seeds, but it will then start putting its energy into building a strong root to survive the winter. Once it gets developed enough, you can make new plants by dividing the roots of the old ones and replanting.

Purple Foxglove, the wild kind, shoots up spikes of flowers 3-6 ft/1-2 m tall. Typically the flowers are purple, but seedlings may be pink, rose, yellow or even white. Rusty Foxglove has downy rusty-red flowers with orange/brown stripes inside and "bumble bee brushes" on their tongues. They get 3-6 ft/1-2 m tall. Straw Foxglove has yellow to white inch-long flowers that grow in spikes 2-3 ft/1 m tall. It is daintier & less dangerous than the classic foxglove, but still deadly poison.

General growing info  Top. 

Digitalis purpurea
Purple Foxglove
200 seeds $4.00

Digitalis ferruginea
Rusty Foxglove
50 seeds $3.75

Digitalis lutea
Straw Foxglove
50 seeds $3.75

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Cottage Garden Plant

Uses in Witchcraft & Magic:

Attracting Fairies
Witch's Garden
Baneful Work
Saturn/Venus Herb

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