Foxglove in the Garden


I only recently learned of the toxic properties of foxglove.

I have a small garden where I keep veggies in pots (for the most part – some are in the ground) and mix with flowers between. I recently planted a bunch of foxglove seeds between a few tomorrow pots. I have dogs and a child, and when I learned foxglove was toxic I began to worry quite a lot. The seeds have not germinated yet, however I am wondering what is advisable as I want them all gone. Should I remove all soil that might have these seeds as all is in such close quarters or wait to pull seedlings once they come up? Is there a chance that any may come up next year if I miss them this year? Without knowing how toxic the seeds may be, if there is risk any may have wound up in or near the veggies should this be considered a risk?
Very random question but wondering what advice might be given? TIA!


Although Foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea) are very beautiful, all parts of the plant, including the seeds, are toxic to humans, cats, dogs and livestock, and you will undoubtedly feel more comfortable knowing this plant has been removed from your garden.

You could certainly remove and dispose of the soil where you planted the seeds, assuming that is not a huge task, but it would also be a good idea to learn how to recognize any young plants that emerge.   Digitalis purpurea is a biennial, or a short-lived herbaceous perennial, which forms a “rosette” of leaves in its first year and produces flowers in its second.   If you sowed your seeds this spring, you could expect them to germinate, put out roots and the leaves that form the rosette during the course of this summer.  The rosette overwinters and the blooms appear the following summer.  It is always possible that seeds that did not germinate this year may do so next year, if the conditions are right.  Foxglove seeds need light to germinate, and any seeds that have been buried too deeply or covered may not germinate.

Here is a website that includes a description of this plant’s life cycle as well as clear photos of young plants and leaves for identification:

If you are asking whether there could be any kind of cross-contamination from Foxglove seeds next to vegetables, there is no research that points to such a risk.  If you are worried about Foxglove seedlings emerging in the vegetable garden, do keep a diligent watch and pull anything that comes up around your veggie plants.

If you are interested in replacing your Foxglove with a look-alike plant that is not toxic, Penstemon digitalis, or Foxglove Beardtongue, is a North American native plant whose flowers resemble those of Foxglove.  It is available at native plant nurseries in Ontario.

June 9, 2021