Due to the fact that its seeds are able to easily fall out and sow themselves once the seedpods open, the foxglove (digitalis) plant is able to grow in the wild under the right conditions and is highly prized by flower enthusiasts in hardiness zones 4 through 8 of the United States Department of Agriculture. Hummingbirds particularly like feeding on the plant since it produces a large number of bell-shaped flowers. After the flowers have finished blooming and the seedpods have dried up and cracked open, it is a straightforward operation to collect the seeds from the plant.
Foxglove Plant Information
When it is newly grown, the foxglove has the appearance of a green rosette at its base with no blooms. This rosette maintains its evergreen appearance throughout the colder months. The next year, at the beginning of spring, it will produce a stem that looks like a spike and will grow to a height of up to 5 feet. In the late spring, the bell-shaped blooms might be pink, white, or even purple, and they hang downward from the stem.
According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, cutting the flower stalks off after they have finished blooming will stimulate the plant to produce a second bloom. Cutting the flower stalks all the way down to the base growth will cause the plant to behave more like a perennial. Because it is a biennial, it takes two years for any seeds, whether they are planted intentionally or by nature, to develop into blossoms. If you let part of the flower stalks die and go to seed on their own, you will have an abundance of foxgloves since the seeds will have already been sown. It only takes a few years for foxglove plants to give the impression that they are perennials when there are enough of them growing in the same location.
Poisonous to People, Pets, Wildlife
Although certain cardiac treatments include components derived from this plant, ingestion of any part of the foxglove, including the seeds, may have lethal consequences for humans. The glycosides and digitoxin found in the foxglove plant may lead to a variety of adverse health effects, including low blood pressure, impaired vision, nausea, and disorientation, to name just a few of the potential side effects.
This plant is poisonous not just to humans but also to horses, cats, dogs, and maybe even other animals. If a pet drinks the water from a vase that contains foxgloves as part of a floral arrangement, it might lead to serious health complications. It is important to keep animals out of places that contain foxgloves.
When to Collect Foxglove Seeds
Look for little pods forming towards the base of each flower as the foxglove blossoms begin to wilt and reach the end of their growth season. These pods will ultimately become dry and brown in colour. Once the shells have split apart, it is time to collect the fruit. It is okay if you have a late start and some of the seeds have already fallen out; the plant may still reseed itself for the next year with the aid of the seeds that have already fallen out.
How to Collect Foxglove Seeds
When harvesting foxglove seeds, it is advisable to wait until the pods have fully dried up before doing so. Once the seedpods have dried up and begun to break open, there are a few different methods that the seeds may be gathered. To remove the seeds from the pod, one method involves placing the pod on top of an open envelope and tapping each seed out of the pod with a finger separately. Another method involves cutting the stem close to its base, after which the stem is held inverted over a clean dish or other container for storing. To dislodge the seeds, give the stem a little shake in both directions.
Wrapping cheesecloth or similar material with a tiny mesh pattern around the base of the plant is another method that may be used to gather the seeds as they fall off the plant naturally. When the seedpods reach their mature state, they will gradually droop and split open, allowing the seeds to escape. There is a possibility that some seeds may still need more coaxing in order to emerge from their capsules.
If you don’t want to wait until the majority of the seedpods have opened, you may cut off the flower stalk or stem sooner and store it in a dry area until the pods dry out and open up. This will allow you to avoid waiting until the majority of the seedpods have cracked open.
Saving the Seeds
Putting the seeds away in an envelope or paper bag is a good idea if you do not intend to plant them in the near future. Keep them away from moisture until you are ready to put them in the ground. In most cases, it is advisable to plant them in the same fall immediately on top of a soil medium. This allows the seedlings to get established well before the onset of winter. According to Burpee, you may also store them and seed them inside two months before the final frost, or you can wait until summer and plant them immediately in the garden. Both of these options are viable.