Question from Lynn:
There are so many fox glove right now at/on the Shores property that a group of us dog-lovers were going to see if we could rid the place of them. Someone suggested a weed wacker. Someone else suggested ripping up from the roots. What is your opinion? We don’t want to use anything toxic to the dogs.
Answer from Pat:
It is a surprise to me to hear of a case in which a large number of foxgloves have naturalized in a park in Southern California unless and except this would be in an irrigated situation in which foxgloves had been purposefully planted and grown. Granted we have had heavy rains this year but I have never heard of foxgloves becoming a nuisance plant in Southern California and I have never seen them growing in the wild in Southern California. Because of the beauty of foxgloves most people are delighted if they can manage to get them to grow and it is actually unusual for them to come back a second year, though if they do they will often be white and not purple which is the more desirable color for foxgloves. I am so surprised about this that I think I must go and see these plants.
Foxgloves are native to woodlands in northern Europe where rains are frequent, but they have become a nuisance in some redwood forests in northern California where rains are adequate and the soil is rich and acid. Foxgloves are not a good plant in such wild places because they are toxic and thus not forage for animals and because foxgloves displace native plants. It should be noted also that foxgloves are also toxic to dogs. However, I have grown foxgloves in my garden and have owned dogs and have never seen a dog attracted to a foxglove or go out of its way to eat a foxglove and this includes taking dogs for walks in England where the woods are often full of foxgloves in spring. I am interested to know if the dog-lovers that frequent this park are afraid their dogs are going to eat these plants or have seen dogs ingest the plants. I mean if they are not doing any harm why get rid of such a beautiful plant?
Foxgloves are biennial plants. They sprout from seeds during the summer of their first year of growth. They continue to grow vegetatively during the winter and then bloom in spring. After that they set seed in early summer and then the seeds fall to the ground. New plants spring up from the seeds and these will bloom in spring. The important thing for a foxglove is to start its vegetative growth in year one then go through winter and bloom during year two after having grown through winter. The best way to get rid of foxgloves is to pull them up by the roots in fall and early spring before they bloom, thus breaking the cycle of growth. They are easy to pull out. Once they bloom and set seed it is too late. The fine seeds will spread, the seed will sprout if its kept moist and then there will be more foxgloves to grow and bloom another spring. But if rains or irrigation are inadequate they will not survive.
If the foxgloves are already blooming but not yet setting seeds, simply pull them out. Weedwacking them is not a good idea since it’s more likely to spread seeds and the roots might even have the energy to send up a second bloom spike in order to set seed as it surely wants to do.
No related articles.