A staple of shaded flower gardens throughout most of the United States, foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea) are easy enough for beginners to grow but varied enough to intrigue experienced gardeners, too. The recently introduced Purple Dalmatian foxglove cultivar sends up 2- to 3-foot flower spikes packed with purple blooms all the way around, not just on one side of the stalk like older varieties. This cultivar flowers in its first year, too, so there's no waiting for a stunning display.
Site Dalmatian Purple foxgloves in full sun or partial shade. Common foxgloves need three to four hours of sunlight for best flowering, but appreciate some shade from the hot afternoon sun. An eastern exposure is ideal.
Amend the soil in the planting area with compost or peat moss. Foxgloves are heavy feeders and need moist, well-drained soil. Organic amendments help feed the plants and also help retain moisture in the soil.
Space Purple Dalmatian plants 12 inches apart. This plant looks best when planted in clumps of several plants rather than as an individual specimen.
Insert a stake close to each plant if your garden is in a windy spot. Shorter foxglove cultivars like Purple Dalmatian are usually self-supporting, but stakes are needed if your garden is in an exposed spot. Use soft twine or a piece of pantyhose to tie the flower stalks to the stakes.
Feed the plants at planting time with a fertilizer formulated for flowering garden plants, and again after the first flowers fade. If the plant survives the winter in your garden, feed it in early spring when the leaves first appear and again after the first flowers of the season fade.
Mulch around your Purple Dalmatian foxgloves with an organic mulch, both to discourage weeds and to conserve moisture.
Cut back the flower stalks after the blossoms fade. Deadheading promotes the formation of smaller, but still lovely, side shoots.
Remove all debris from around the plant after frost blackens the garden, to keep insects and slugs from overwintering near your plants.