How to Harvest and Save Foxglove Seeds

Now that I’ve moved and have my own yard and garden again, I can’t wait to establish a foxglove patch in my front yard.

Not only are these pretty flowers deer resistant, which is necessary for keeping any plants alive in my neighborhood, but they provide a pollinator haven as well.

And, once one or two plants bloom, there’s no telling how far I can expand the patch – because foxgloves are not stingy when it comes to seed production.

A close up horizontal image of pink foxglove flowers growing in the garden pictured on a soft focus background. To the center and bottom of the frame is green and white printed text.

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If you have these plants in your garden, it doesn’t take much effort at all to save a lot in no time. And I’ll bet your friends and neighbors wouldn’t mind receiving a few of the extras.

If you’re wondering how to go about saving your homegrown foxglove seeds, we’ve got you covered. Here’s everything we’ll talk about in this guide:

Foxglove Pollination

With flowers wide enough to fit your finger inside, foxgloves present the perfect place for bumblebees to forage.

Various types of bees and other insects like to crawl inside the spotted tubes, whether to shelter from rain or to partake in the abundance of nectar these blooms produce.

The flowers last for about six days, giving pollinators plenty of time to get in there and do their magic.

A close up horizontal image of pink foxglove flowers with bee feeding, pictured on a soft focus background.

Foxgloves have complete flowers, with both male and female parts, but they rig the system.

The male part of the flower will often shed pollen before the female part is even receptive, which facilitates more cross-pollination between plants than if both were ready to go at the same time.

If you isolate one variety from others, however, most of the resulting seeds will bloom true to the parent.

Each plant can produce one to two million seeds. TWO MILLION! I told you they aren’t stingy.

This means you really only need to let one stalk dry from each bloom color you wish to keep.

The dry brown capsule-covered stalks are not as aesthetically pleasing as the flower stalks themselves, of course, so cutting the others back will keep your garden looking tidy and beautiful.

A close up horizontal image of a foxglove flower head pictured on a soft focus background.

Once the capsules are dry and the contents mature, this plant easily self-sows, spilling its tiny seeds all over your garden if you let it. Because of this, they may seem like perennials, when in fact they are most often biennial plants.

However, if you want to be in control of where the future plants end up, catch the capsules before they split and spill. It’s easy to collect a lot of these tiny guys in a hurry.

Let’s talk about how to catch the seeds before they’re spread to the neighbor’s yard next!

How to Harvest Seeds

Foxgloves bloom from the bottom of the stalk upwards, with the lower flowers reaching maturity and producing seeds before the upper blossoms.

A close up vertical image of a dried flower head pictured in light sunshine on a soft focus background.

Let the seeds mature and dry for as long as possible on the plant. This will occur throughout the summer and autumn. The stalks and capsules should be faded and crispy before you harvest.

These plants produce capsules that split open once they’re mature, so if you’re worried you won’t catch them in time before they release their contents, cover each stalk with a paper bag.

A close up horizontal image of the dried seed capsules pictured on a soft focus background.

Once the stalks are dry, shake them inside the bag to remove any seed that hasn’t already fallen out of the capsules.

You can also cut the stems a bit early, when they’re mostly dry. Store each of them in a shoebox or paper bag to finish drying.

Most of the seeds will fall out on their own, but you can also crush or shake the capsules to make sure you get everything once they’re dry.

Allowing the capsules to split and spill their contents on their own ensures they’re mature and ready to be put in storage.

How to Store

Proper storage is essential in keeping the seeds viable until you sow them. After drying completely, store them in an airtight container or wax-coated paper envelope, and keep them in a cool, dark place.

A close up horizontal image of seeds set on a white surface.
Photo by Syliva Dekker.

It is essential to keep them away from heat and moisture until you want them to germinate.

Label the package or jar with the plant type or species, plus the date collected.

Sow indoors early the next season, or broadcast outdoors to expand your foxglove patch.

Colorful Spires

The tall, bright flower spikes foxglove plants produce, and the pollinators they attract, are worth any extra work required to harvest and store the seeds. Fortunately, this process is simple! Once completely dry, they are easy to collect and store.

A close up horizontal image of foxgloves growing in the garden pictured in light evening sunshine.

Since each plant can produce so many tiny seeds, it’s easy to end up with a lot of potential plants tucked away in your home for the winter.

Will you be saving and sharing seeds from your own plants? Let me know in the comments below if you’ve tried this before.

To help you sow and grow foxgloves in your garden, find more information in these guides:

Photo of author
Sylvia Dekker is a nature-inspired creative with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture, a history of Canadian province-hopping, and a life filled with brown thumbs, bee stings, and tan lines. When Sylvia travels, on mountain or steppe, she harvests knowledge, experiences, and honey, goes starry-eyed over each tiny plant, and writes about it all.

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Martin (@guest_20375)
1 year ago

Thought the pods were empty as I was expecting bigger seeds but fortunately I saved the pods just in case and now realise they are tiny. For sowing indoors, I’m guessing good potting seed mix in a warm and sunny spot kept damp?