Foxglove Flowers: Meaning, Symbolism, and Proper Occasions
Foxgloves are beautiful and complex flowers that are praised by gardeners, florists, botanists, and flower enthusiasts alike. These hardy blooms are easy to grow and care for and add a vibrant beauty to any garden. This makes them an excellent choice for new gardeners. However, these flowers still offer a challenge to seasoned gardeners, and there is no shortage of variety among their species. If you’re a fan of Foxgloves and want to know the deeper meaning and history of this flower, you’ve clicked on the right article. Let’s explore the meaning and symbolism of the Foxglove, and discuss some appropriate occasions to give these flowers as a gift.
Foxgloves: A Brief Overview
“Foxglove” is the common name for flowers that belong to the genus Digitalis, which is comprised of roughly 20 species. Leonhart Fuchs, the German botanist responsible for naming this flower, believed the blooms to resemble thimbles. Because of this, he derived this name from the Latin word “digitus,” which translates to finger. Although you may not have noticed it at first glance, it’s hard to deny their likeness! The common foxglove is known as Digitalis purpurea, and when you picture one in your head, it’s likely that this is the one you’re visualizing.
These bell-shaped flowers are available in a variety of colors, such as purple, pink, white, and yellow. They are biennial, growing one year and blooming the next. The plants can reach between three and five feet in height, and perform best in partial sunlight. However, it’s important to keep in mind that these flowers are toxic to both humans and animals. If you often have pets or young children frequenting your garden, you might want to reconsider planting them.
Types of Foxgloves
Under the Digitalis umbrella, there are several different species of foxgloves. Aside from the common foxglove, Apricot Beauty is a favorite among gardeners. These peach-toned foxgloves are brightest immediately after they bloom and gradually fade into a more relaxed shade. However, if you’re looking for something more vibrant for your garden, Excelsior is an excellent choice. This hybrid variety boasts a mix of several colors, such as pink, purple, and white. If neither of these species caught your eye, Alba might be the foxglove you’re looking for. This classic white species has been around for centuries and adds a subtle beauty to any garden or yard. With such a wide variety of different foxgloves, there’s bound to be one for everyone. Try to do some research about ones hardy to your area to find the perfect foxglove for you.
How to Care For Foxgloves
Depending on your location, foxgloves need slightly different care. For example, if you live in the South or an area that gets a lot of sunlight, try to plant your foxgloves somewhere partially shaded so they don’t dry out. If you’re located up North, planting your foxgloves in direct sunlight won’t be an issue. In fact, they might require a bit extra depending on the average cloud cover in your location. These flowers enjoy moist soil, so be sure to water them appropriately. Try to keep track of the average rainfall in your area so that you don’t accidentally overwater these flowers.
Due to their height, foxgloves are prone to falling over and breaking. Because of this, you may need to stake up the stems of these flowers as they grow taller to prevent this from happening. As the weather begins to cool off and autumn approaches, you should cut any perennial foxgloves back. This will ensure they’re prepared to bloom again the following spring. For biennial foxgloves, you can simply wait for them to seed. Overall, foxgloves are easy to care for and aren’t very labor intensive. Common sense and a keen eye are usually all you need to keep these flowers blooming and healthy.
What do Foxgloves Symbolize?
Although these flowers are beautiful and delicate, they carry both positive and negative symbolism. Some believe the foxglove to be childish, playful, and fun in nature while others think of them as representations of insincerity and lies. The negative connotation stems from a few places, namely the fact that foxes are known for their cunning nature and are associated with deception. There was an old folktale that told a story about foxes preparing to attack a local village. As these foxes got ready, they adorned foxgloves on their hands to prepare for the ambush. In addition, some believe that the presence of foxgloves indicates that fairies are nearby. Fairies are also known for trickery, riddles, and secrecy, so it’s no mystery where this rumor stemmed from. This, combined with their toxicity has given foxgloves a less-than-positive reputation throughout history.
However, it seems that the past has faded in recent years, and foxgloves are entering their redemption arc. Presently, these flowers are symbolic of confidence, achieving goals, pride in one’s own abilities, bravery, creativity, and childlike wonder. The color of the foxglove might also alter the meaning. Pink foxgloves are associated with budding romance, joy, and happiness, whereas white foxgloves carry the meaning of innocence and cleanliness.
Uses for Foxgloves
Although foxgloves have had medicinal uses throughout history, these flowers aren’t a common component in modern medicine. Formerly, this plant was used for various purposes, such as a laxative, wound treatment, and an epilepsy aid. Foxglove extract was used as a potential treatment for cardiac issues up until relatively recently, but even for this, its use has slowed. Newer drugs have been created that are easier to produce, and it has since fallen out of favor. Researchers from the University at Buffalo weighed in on this, saying “Current methods for producing digoxin are cumbersome: Because each foxglove plant makes only a little bit of the chemical, farmers must grow the crop in huge quantities … That uses up a lot of agricultural land. The wait time is also long.”
Although these researchers have been making positive progress in the efficiency of production for this drug, the chief use for these flowers currently is solely aesthetic. Many people enjoy planting these vibrant blooms to brighten up their gardens, and they’ve become unique gifts for special occasions.
Occasions to Give Foxgloves
It is important to consider the color of foxgloves before you give them as a gift, as each different variety carries a different meaning. If you’re attending a religious ceremony, white foxgloves would be an appropriate choice. Alternately, if you’re thinking about giving these flowers to someone as a romantic gesture, pink is a perfect symbol of love and romance. But, what if you’re congratulating someone for a recent accomplishment or milestone in their life? For these occasions, consider gifting them a variety of foxglove colors. There is an appropriate color of foxglove for nearly every celebration, so be sure to take some time to decide which is most fitting.
Equally as interesting as they are beautiful, foxgloves have had many different uses and interpretations throughout history. These flowers have proved useful in medicine, have the ability to brighten up the appearance of any garden and make excellent gifts for a wide variety of occasions. With all of these positives, the sordid reputation that foxgloves once had is beginning to make a recovery.