Foxglove varieties: 16 stunning options for summer borders

Enchanting and architectural, these foxglove varieties are a wonderful addition to the summer garden

Lavender pink flowers of Foxglove Digitalis purpurea 'Camelot Lavender'
(Image credit: Botany Vision/Alamy Stock Photo)

There are so many foxgloves varieties to choose from that you'll be spoiled for choice if you want to add some to your planting scheme. Producing slender spikes of flowers, foxgloves (also known as Digitalis) create vertical accents through the border. The statuesque spires show off the other plants around them and provide a great food source for bumblebees at the same time. 

Of the 20 species of Digitalis, most are perennials, but the best known is the biennial purple-pink D. purpurea, which grows wild in and around woodland. 

There is a huge range of D. purpurea cultivars on offer. Sow these biennial foxglove varieties in early summer for flowers next year or buy them ready-grown as bedding plants. Be warned that if the plants don’t have flowers or buds on them now, no matter whether you give the right foxglove care or not, they won’t bloom until next spring. 

'Candy Mountain is great for a splash of color, especially if planted in groups,’ says Pennsylvania-based landscape designer Nathan Tuno, who works at Roots Landscape Inc. ‘I also like the cooler palettes of Dalmatian Peach and Snow Thimble.’ 

The white form of the wild foxglove is another great choice, as are the Dalmatian cultivars, which flower in their first year. Be aware that the highly bred cultivars don’t offer as much nectar for bees as D. purpurea itself. 

There are lots of lesser-known perennial foxglove varieties, which provide food for bees. Two of the best are D. lutea and D. grandiflora, which have pale-yellow flowers. Although they are short-lived perennials, they self-seed. There are also stylish fawn and orange forms, such as D. ferruginea and ‘Spice Island’.

Give summer borders a boost with the best foxglove varieties

Light up your flowerbed ideas by adding some of our favorite foxglove varieties to your plot. From pale yellows and whites to dusky pinks and purples, there are so many different colors to choose from. 

It's also worth learning when and how to deadhead foxgloves to ensure these impressive plants stay looking their best. 

1. Digitalis grandiflora

Digitalis grandiflora

(Image credit: Zoonar GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Hardiness: USDA 3-8 (UK H6)
  • Height: 2-3ft (60-90cm)

This foxglove variety is a lovely perennial with large bell-shaped pale yellow flowers above evergreen leaves from late spring to summer. 

It lives for 3-5 years and self-seeds in well-drained, humus-rich soil in semi-shade. It will grow in sun if the soil doesn’t dry out. 

This pretty variety works really well when planted with the lilac flowers of the spring and summer flowering Campanula persicifolia.

2. Digitalis lutea

Digitalis Lutea (yellow foxglove)

(Image credit: Naturefolio / Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Hardiness: USDA 3-8 (UK H6)
  • Height: 2-3ft (60-90cm)

The straw foxglove is an elegant, reliable perennial originating from Central Europe, which sends up slender stalks of small, narrow yellow-cream flowers above glossy green leaves during summer. 

As with all foxglove varieties, this would make an ideal cottage garden plant. It will also self-seed in well-drained, retentive, humus-rich soil in sun or semi-shade. 

A good planting partner is Polygonatum × hybridum.

Foxglove Digitalis purpurea 'Primrose Carousel' in flower

(Image credit: Anne Gilbert / Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Hardiness: USDA 4-8 (UK H5)
  • Height: 2.5ft (75cm)

A biennial with pale ice-cream yellow flowers speckled plum in late spring and early summer. It doesn’t grow too tall, making it ideal for the front or middle of the border amongst your summer bulbs

Best in well-drained, retentive, fertile soil in semi-shade. Grow alongside the hardy geranium Rozanne for a pretty planting scheme. 

4. Digitalis ferruginea

Digitalis ferruginea. Rusty foxglove

(Image credit: Tim Gainey / Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Hardiness: USDA 4-8 (UK H6)
  • Height: 3-4ft (90-120cm)

This foxglove variety is a short-lived impressive perennial for sun or semi-shade. 

‘The rusty foxglove is a favorite,’ says David Ward, Garden and Nursery Director at Beth Chatto’s Plants and Gardens in Essex. ‘The tall stems bear small trumpets of coppery-yellow, veined brown.’ 

Complement the copper tones by growing the purple flowering Angelica gigas alongside it. 

5. Digitalis parviflora Jacq.

Digitalis parviflora Jacq

(Image credit: Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants)
  • Hardiness: USDA 5-8 (UK H5)
  • Height: 2ft (60cm)

The small-flowered foxglove is a stylish perennial from the Spanish mountains that has small bronze-brown flowers on downy white flower stems above long green leaves in early summer. 

Grow this short-lived perennial in well-drained humus-rich soil types in semi-shade. 

The clump-forming perennial Tellima grandiflora is a good planting partner. 

6. Digitalis lanata

Digitalis lanata, Grecian foxglove

(Image credit: Zoltan Bagosi / Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Hardiness: USDA 5-8 (UK H5)
  • Height: 3ft (90cm)

The Grecian foxglove has white, cappuccino, and yellow bell flowers on downy stems. These bee friendly plants will be visited by pollinators in summer. 

Grow these short-lived perennial foxgloves in retentive, well-drained soil in sun or semi-shade. Boost the color impact by planting it alongside the long flowering Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’.

Be aware that . D. lanata has become an invasive plant in some parts of North America. 

7. Digitalis obscura

Sunset foxglove (Digitalis obscura)

(Image credit: Steffen Hauser / botanikfoto / Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Hardiness: USDA 6-9 (UK H3)
  • Height: 2-3ft (60-90cm)

The sunset foxglove is a short-lived shrubby perennial from Spain and North Africa, which has warm gold and rust-orange flowers on chocolate stems above willow-like leaves in late spring and summer. 

Grow in humus-rich well-drained soil in semi-shade or sun. It may self-seed. 

For a garden color scheme with plenty of impact, combine it with the purple flowering Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna'.

8. Digitalis purpurea ’Sutton’s Apricot’

Digitalis 'Sutton's Apricot

(Image credit: Delphine Adburgham / Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Hardiness: USDA 4-9 (UK H7)
  • Height: 4-5ft (1.2-1.5m)

Spires of creamy pink-peach bell flowers adorn this popular biennial form in late spring and early summer. 

Perfect in cottage gardens in well-drained, humus-rich soil in semi-shade. It is also happy in full sun, as long as the soil doesn’t dry out. 

Combine with Hesperis matronalis, which is also a great plant for pollinators

9. Digitalis canariensis (syn. Isoplexis canariensis)

D. canariensis

(Image credit: John Richmond /Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Hardiness: USDA 8-10 (UK H2)
  • Height: 2-5ft (75cm-1.5m)

The Canary Island foxglove is a fabulous evergreen shrub that bears plum spikes of pale-orange flowers in summer. 

These orange foxgloves will look brilliant as a tropical plant for a jungle-style border. Grow in sheltered sun or semi-shade in mild areas; overwinter indoors in cold regions. 

Maximize the color impact by growing alongside the equally vibrant Hedychium densiflorum 'Assam Orange'.

10. Digitalis purpurea f. albiflora

D. purpurea f. albiflora

(Image credit: BIOSPHOTO / Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Hardiness: USDA 4-9 (UK H7)
  • Height: 4-5ft (1.2-1.5m)

‘I love the impressive white form of the UK native foxglove,’ says David Ward. ‘It stands like white candlesticks amongst the fresh greens of late spring.’ 

David weeds out the pink form to allow the elegant white to flourish. This is a great biennial for bees and is best when grown as a shade-loving plant.  

Combine with Anthriscus sylvestris 'Ravenswing', which has small white flowers in late spring and early summer.

11. Digitalis purpurea subsp. heywoodii 'Silver Fox’

D. purpurea subsp. heywoodii 'Silver Fox’

(Image credit: Sergey Kalyakin/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Hardiness: USDA 5-9 (UK H5)
  • Height: 2.5ft (60-75cm)

This lovely biennial foxglove has ivory-white thimble flowers that are sometimes flushed pale pink, with spotted throats, above downy silver-grey foliage, in summer. 

Grow in garden borders comprised of humus-rich well-drained soil in semi-shade or sun. 

A good planting partner is Athyrium niponicum var. pictum 'Silver Falls’.

12. Digitalis purpurea 'Dalmatian White' (Dalmatian Series)

D. purpurea 'Dalmatian White' (Dalmatian Series

(Image credit: thrillerfillerspiller/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Hardiness: USDA 4-9 (UK H5)
  • Height: 2ft (60cm)
  • Planting partner: Astrantia major 'Claret'

With wands of bright-white flowers with purple-speckled throats through late spring to summer, this stunning variety is guaranteed to stand out from the crowd. 

Unlike most forms of D. purpurea, this biennial or short-lived perennial blooms in its first year, in humus-rich well-drained soil in semi-shade. 

Plant alongside Astrantia major 'Claret' for an effective planting combination. 

13. Digitalis x mertonensis

D. x mertonensis

(Image credit: Chris Burrows/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Hardiness: USDA 4-8 (UK H5)
  • Height: 2-3ft (60-90cm)

The strawberry foxglove is a cross between D. purpurea and D. grandiflora, producing a perennial with dusky-pink bells in late spring. 

Lives for 2-3 years in well-drained humus-rich soil in semi-shade. Many foxglove varieties, including this one, can be propagated by division to give you extra free plants, or it can be grown from seed. 

Try planting it with the semi-evergreen fern Dryopteris erythrosora.

14 Digitalis × valinii Foxlight Rose Ivory (Foxlight Series)

D. × valinii Foxlight Rose Ivory (Foxlight Series)

(Image credit: © Jonathan Buckley)
  • Hardiness: USDA 7-10 (UK H4)
  • Height: 2ft (60cm)

This short-lived perennial form has pink flowers with spotted apricot throats over a long period, from late spring into late summer. 

If you're keen on landscaping with flowers in your plot, this variety will be great at enticing bees. 

Grow in mild areas in humus-rich retentive, well-drained soil in semi-shade or sun. It works well alongside Monarda ‘Fireball'.

15. Digitalis purpurea ‘Pink Gin’

Digitalis purpurea 'Pink Gin'

(Image credit: Steffen Hauser / botanikfoto / Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Hardiness: USDA 4-9 (UK H7)
  • Height: 4ft (1.2m)

An adorable cottage-garden style foxglove with soft-pink bell flowers that fade to buff, ivory, and white and have speckled throats. 

Grow this biennial variety in humus-rich well-drained soil in semi-shade. It can be grown in sun as long as the soil does not dry out. 

Add some depth of color to your planting mix by combining it with the purple tones of Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant'.

16. Digitalis purpurea ‘Camelot Lavender’ (Camelot Series)

D. purpurea ‘Camelot Lavender’

(Image credit: thrillerfillerspiller / Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Hardiness: USDA 4-9 (UK H5)
  • Height: 3-4ft (90-120cm)

Choose this variety and you'll get to enjoy spires of speckled lavender-pink flowers all around the stems in late spring and summer. 

This floriferous F1 hybrid blooms in its first year and can live for 2-3 years in well-drained humus-rich soil in semi-shade or full sun. 

A good planting partner is the small shrub Rosa gallica ‘Versicolor’.

What different colored foxglove varieties are there?

The wild biennial foxglove, D. purpurea, is purple pink, and there is a graceful white form of it (D. purpurea f. alba), as well as a huge range of hybrids available in shades of pink, purple, pale-yellow, white, and peach. 

The lesser-known range of perennial foxglove varieties include primrose-yellow, apricot, pink, and fawn flowers. 

Foxglove, Digitalis purpurea pink, white flowers and buds

Hybrids of Digitalis purpurea in shades of pink

(Image credit: A. Astes / Alamy Stock Photo)

Which foxglove varieties come back every year?

The perennial forms will flower year after year, although they can be short-lived and therefore may only last for 3-5 years. They include the rusty foxglove (D. ferruginea), which has small amber-buff bells on 4ft (1.2m) stems, and the yellow foxglove (D. grandiflora), which has large primrose bells on 2ft (60cm) stems.  

Teresa Conway
Deputy Editor

Teresa has worked as an Editor on a number of gardening magazines for three years now. So she is lucky enough to see and write about gardening across all sizes, budgets and abilities. She recently moved into her first home and the garden is a real project! Currently she is relishing planning her own design and planting schemes. What she is most passionate about when it comes to gardening are the positive effects it has on our mental health to grow and care for plants, as well as being great for the environment too and help provide food and shelter for wildlife.