• AGM plants

    AGM plants have been through a rigourous trial and assessment programme. They are:

    • Excellent for ordinary use in appropriate conditions
    • Available to buy
    • Of good constitution
    • Essentially stable in form & colour
    • Reasonably resistant to pests & diseases

Digitalis purpurea

Common foxglove

Common foxglove

© � RHS 1999

  • Other common names Common foxglove
    Bloody bells

    Bloody finger
    Cow flop
    Dead man's bells
    Dead men's bells
    Dog's lugs
    Dragon's mouth
    Fairy bells
    Fairy fingers
    Fairy gloves
    Fairy thimbles
    Fairy's cap
    Fairy's petticoat
    Fairy's thimble
    Finger flower
    Flap dock
    Folk's gloves
    Fox finger
    Gloves of Mary
    Lady's fingers
    Lady's gloves
    Lady's thimble
    Lion's mouth
    Pop dock
    Thimble finger
    Thimble flower
    Throat root
    Witches' bells
    Witches' fingers
    Witches' gloves
    Witches' thimbles

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  • Genus Digitalis can be biennials or usually short-lived perennials forming a rosette of simple leaves with bell-shaped flowers in slender, erect, usually one-sided racemes

  • Family Plantaginaceae / Plantaginaceae

  • Species D. purpurea is a biennial or short-lived perennial, freely self-sowing, with a rosette of softly hairy, oval leaves and tall, one-sided spires of pendant, tubular, bright rosy-purple flowers 6cm long, spotted within, in summer

  • Plant range W Europe


  • Foliage Deciduous

  • Habit Bushy

  • Toxicity Highly toxic by ingestion



  • Full Sun

  • Partial Shade

  • Aspect South-facing or West-facing or East-facing

  • Exposure Exposed or Sheltered


  • Chalk


  • Chalk


  • Chalk


  • Chalk


  • MoistureWell-drained, Moist but well-drained

  • SoilSand, Clay, Chalk, Loam

  • pHAcid, Alkaline, Neutral


  • Ultimate height

    1.5-2.5 metres

  • Ultimate spread

    0.1-0.5 metres

  • Time to ultimate height

    1-2 years

How to grow

Cultivation Grow in almost any soil,but avoid very wet or very dry situations. Prefers a humus-rich soil in partial shade but will grow in full sun. Deadhead after flowering to avoid problems with excess numbers of seedlings.

Propagation Propagate by seed sown in-situ in late spring. Alternatively sow in seed trays in late spring and plant out to final position in late summer

Suggested planting locations and garden types Flower borders and beds Underplanting of Roses and Shrubs City & Courtyard Gardens Coastal Cottage & Informal Garden Wildflower meadow

How to care

Pruning Cut back after flowering

Pests Can get aphids and leaf and bud eelworms

Diseases May be affected by leaf spots and powdery mildew

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