Last updated on May 20th, 2023 at 11:07 pm
Foxglove, also known as Digitalis in Latin, is a plant genus with over twenty species. These plants have been around for centuries. Foxgloves’ existence dates back as far as 1000 AD. These wildflowers are beautiful and deadly at the same time as they are poisonous.
Foxgloves, considered wildflowers, are popular garden flowers. Despite their poisonous nature and short-lived nature, they are every garden lover’s favorite. Foxgloves bloom in the months between June and September with pinkish-violet flowers. Gardens with foxgloves in bloom will look magical during these months.
Foxgloves are common in Europe, especially in the English countryside. They are also found in parts of Asia, North Africa, and also in the Canary Islands. They were introduced in the United States of America later in the 1700s. These plants, in the beginning, were part of the figwort family or Scrophulariaceae. Later, much modern research made taxonomists place them into the Plantaginaceae family.
The origin of the name ‘Foxglove’ is very interesting. There are many myths and superstitions related to the name of these blossoms. Foxglove’s Latin name, ‘Digitalis,’ is derived from ‘digitus, ‘ which means finger-like. This refers to the finger-like shape of individual flowers and can fit on a finger like a thimble. The English name, ‘Foxglove,’ has its root in the Anglo-Saxon use of ‘foxes glofa, ‘ meaning the fox’s glove.
The name ‘Foxglove’ has mythical stories behind it. One story says that foxes wear these flowers on their paws to remain silent while hunting. There are many nicknames for this particular plant, including Fairy’s Gloves, Thimble, and Fairy Cap. People believed that fairies lived near these flowers, which gave them these nicknames. Also, foxglove was ‘folk’s glove’ referring to fairies’ gloves. Witch’s Gloves or Dead Men’s Bells are other names associated with foxglove. These names came into being because of their poisonous and deadly nature.
What does the Foxglove (Digitalis) flower symbolize?
Foxglove flowers’ meaning and symbolism might be interesting and contradictory simultaneously. This is because it is both a poison and a medicine. As seen earlier, the flower has a lot of mythical and superstitious stories and beliefs related to it.
Foxgloves, in the language of flowers, means insincerity. Meanwhile, it also means, ‘I am not ambitious for myself, but for you.’ This duality in meaning arises because of the flower’s ability to heal and hurt.
Foxgloves also have other symbolism, including stateliness, youth, pride, magic, connection, productivity, cooperation, ambition, and creativity.
Foxglove symbolizes fairies as they are seen as flowers of the fairies. It is believed and said that plucking foxgloves would anger the fairy folk. These flowers are used as symbols of Mother Mary. This is because, in medieval times, there were gardens dedicated to Virgin Mary. The foxgloves grown there came to be known as ‘Our Lady’s gloves’ or ‘Gloves of the Virgin.’
In Roman legends, foxgloves are associated with the goddess Flora. She uses the flower on Hera to get her pregnant with Mars. As a result, foxgloves became symbols of midwifery and women’s magic. This also gave the flowers the names ‘Granny’s gloves’ and ‘Granny’s Bonnets.’
All in all, the foxglove (digitalis) flower symbolic meanings are:
Meaning of the Foxglove (Digitalis) flower colors
White flowers often symbolize purity and innocence, as does a white foxglove (digitalis) flower. These flowers mean purity and openness and symbolize feminine energy.
White foxglove flowers mean that an open heart will allow growth and creativity. These flowers can look fresh and soothing to the eyes in a garden filled with bright colors.
Yellow flowers carry a meaning of clarity. The color is associated with warmth, cheer, positivity, and joy. Yellow foxglove (digitalis) flowers mean having trust and confidence to move forward irrespective of the situation.
This flower looks cheerful and fun and will remind you of spring. Yellow is associated with optimism, enthusiasm, and humor and can help you think clearly.
Pink flowers mean to heal from emotional wounds. It also denotes love and beauty. Similarly, the meaning of the pink foxglove (digitalis) flower’s meaning is very positive. It means to have hope.
Pink is also a color of healing and love. It helps in coping with anxiety, loss, or any trauma. The pink foxglove flower looks gentle and can be said to mean warmth and beauty.
The purple foxglove (digitalis) flower means wisdom, inspiration, determination, tolerance, charm, and magic. These flower colors are also associated with the balance between love, power, and transformation.
Purple-colored flowers have soothing traits. According to color psychology, lavender and purple can soothe the nerves.
As a result, watching a purple foxglove in bloom can bring one’s mind to ease. They can ease the tension in your mind and make your temper low when you feel angry.
A red foxglove (digitalis) flower means to be happy and cheerful. Bright red foxgloves are rare compared to the other colors. Their presence is very eye-catching as it draws one’s attention to it.
These flowers have an intense look and look dramatic when they move in the wind. Red foxgloves are very visually stimulating, but they are not easily seen.
The color red is a symbol of desire, survival, instinct, pleasure, and victory.
Interesting facts about the Foxglove (Digitalis) flowers
- One stalk of foxglove (digitalis) has around 20 to 80 blooms arranged on it.
- In its first year, foxgloves only grow leaves. Flowers bloom in the next year.
- Ingesting a very small piece of foxglove can be fatal to people.
- Foxgloves are one of the tallest wildflowers in Scotland. The tallest foxglove ever recorded grew over 11 feet (3.35 m).
- Foxgloves’ association with fairies and witches has created various superstitions. In Scotland, it is a tradition to put foxgloves near a baby’s cradle to protect the child from fairies and witches.
- Being a medicinal and poisonous plant, foxgloves are believed to have the ability to raise the dead and kill the living.
- The chemicals of these flowers are used in medicine, especially to make a drug named digoxin.
- Foxgloves were sources of inspiration to many Scottish writers, poets, and musicians. A famous Scottish literary figure Marion Angus wrote about them.
- William Withering (1741-1799), an English botanist and physician, first used foxgloves or digitalis to treat dropsy (edema).
How to grow Foxglove (Digitalis) flowers
Foxgloves (digitalis) are great in tall borders or background plantings and look attractive against a background such as a building or a fence.
- Plant the foxglove (digitalis) in moist, well-drained soil high in organic matter, with a slightly acidic to neutral pH.
- Prepare the soil by mixing in a 3- to 4-inch layer of compost or aged manure.
- Place them in a spot with full sun and light afternoon shade.
- Keep soil moist by watering thoroughly.
How to care for Foxglove (Digitalis) flowers
- Water the foxglove (digitalis) plants regularly until they are fully established.
- Every spring, feed with balanced granular plant food.
- Mulch around plants with a 5-7.5cm (2-3 in) layer of organic debris, such as compost or composted bark.
- Cut the faded flower stalks back to the ground and feed them liquid plant food.
- Deadhead after flowering to avoid excessive numbers of seedlings.
Best time to gift Foxglove (Digitalis) flowers
Foxglove (digitalis) flowers are not given as gifts because of their toxic nature. These flowers can be dangerous when accessible to children or pets. If you want to give someone foxglove flowers as a gift, it would be better for you to give them the seeds of these plants.
Someone who loves gardening might love receiving foxglove seeds. The recipient can grow the plant as and when they wish. When handled safely, these flowers can be used as floral gifts in wedding bouquets and arrangements. Foxglove flowers look beautiful and can add a touch of drama.
Foxgloves are a group of distinct flowering plants that have a magical and mystical air to them. The bright colors and small, droopy, bell-shaped flowers are eye-catching. It is fascinating and, at the same time, unbelievable that such a charming plant can be deadly too.
Foxglove flowers are enchanting, and they are rich with mythical stories. Similar to the flowers being both medicinal and poisonous, they also have positive and negative meanings ranging from insincerity to pride and ambition. Yet, they have become a favorite to people and have found their way into one’s garden and heart.