Jun
20
2021

Monty Don’s thimble growing tips, his favorite flower – and what not to do

Thimbles are a staple of the cottage garden, great for adding height and interest, as well as a popular food source for pollinators, especially bees. Fortunately, this garden favorite is foolproof and a great choice even for beginners.

“Foxglove is really easy to grow from seeds,” encouraged Monty Don in a recent one Gardener’s World videobut don’t expect flowers in the first year.

Since foxglove is biennial, the plants will take root and produce leaves the first year, then stay all winter before bursting into beautiful blooms the following year.

If you want an immediate effect, you can buy established plants or special hybrid plants that will bloom this year. These plants can be treated as annuals, but of course they are more expensive than buying seeds and growing them yourself.

A word of caution: thimbles are poisonous, so not good if you have pets that are likely to eat plants.

Monty Don’s favorite thimble

In his new book The complete gardener, Monty Don reveals that his own favorite thimble is the white foxglove (Digitalis purpurea f. albiflora) because it “grows gracefully in almost complete shade and dry shade, which is rare”.

Growing foxgloves – with Monty Don’s top tips

Growing Foxglove Cottage Garden GettyImages-629384789

“The big advantage of biennials in our borders over annuals is that they are tough enough to survive a cold winter and produce flowers quickly in the spring without having to wait for the plant to first grow,” says Monty Don in his Blog.

“Sow the seeds thinly in a seed tray, cover with vermiculite and set aside to germinate. You don’t need warmth, but a sheltered space or a porch will help.

“When the seedlings are large enough to handle, prick them in pots or plugs and move them around so the young plants can plant out in early fall where they are supposed to bloom in spring.”

In addition, they require very little maintenance and then bloom and sow on their own, making them a very easy-care option that is still a blow to the limit.

Due to their height, thimbles are very suitable on the back of borders. “We use them in the shrub rose garden, where they bloom before the roses are in bloom and fill the gap between spring and midsummer,” says Helen Round, garden manager at RHS Rosemoor. In the Cottage Garden we combine them with sweet rocket and sweet williams. “

Do foxgloves come back every year?

Growing thimbles

Thimbles can come back every year if you choose a perennial variety. Perennial foxgloves bloom each year for the next three to five years. Types like Apricot Beauty, Regal Red, and Snow Thimble are good choices.

However, most thimbles are two years old, especially if they are grown from seeds. That means they bloom in the second year after planting and then die off.

Thimbles are self-seeding, which means that over time, with minimal effort, you can have a continuous flower border every year. To do this, sow seeds for two consecutive years so that you don’t have a gap in flowers.

Where is the best place to plant foxgloves?

The best place to plant your foxglove is in full sun or partial shade and in freely draining soil. “Gloves are really good at growing in a lot of weird little nooks and crannies in the garden,” says Monty Don in a Gardener’s World video.

For panicles up to 30cm long and plants over 1m tall, it is also important to consider the vertical height available for the plant, so avoid underplanting shrubs or smaller trees.

Do foxgloves like sun or shade?

Growing thimbles in a garden Getty Images 1151125876

Foxglove prefers partial shade, but also thrives in full sun. You are a forest plant and like forest conditions.

Spread thimbles?

Growing thimbles in a garden Getty Images 929182418

thimble to do since they self-seeding, meaning you likely have thimbles showing up in various other borders as well. in the The complete gardener Monty Don affectionately describes them as a “welcome weed”.

How does Monty deal with rogue thimble? “We collect the seedlings and bring them to selected places in the garden. This has to happen in autumn or late winter at the latest, ”he continues.

Can you use thimble as a cut flower?

“Gloves look amazing in a vase, but remember that each plant only produces one inflorescence,” says Helen Round, garden manager at RHS Rosemoor. “Once pruned, the plant stops producing, or if it does, it becomes much smaller.”