Foxglove Flowers Meanings

√ Updated: September 14, 2010

Foxglove MeaningFoxglove flowers have both positive and negative symbolic meanings.They are said to sometimes hurt and sometimes heal. In the language of flowers, foxglove is associated with insincerity.

The common name is said to come from "folk's gloves," with "folk" referring to fairy folk. Another theory is that fox wore the gloves gloves so they would not be caught raiding a chicken coop. Rumor also has it that picking foxglove offends the fairy folk. Most likely, this tale was told to children to keep them away from the poisonous plant. Another possible origin of the name is due to its similarity to an ancient musical instrument, the fox's glew, due to the bell shape.

In medieval gardens dedicated to Mother Mary, foxglove was called "Our Lady's Gloves" or "gloves of the Virgin." The scientific name is digitalis, a reference to the presence of powerful chemicals that can heal heart conditions if taken correctly but can kill if taken in large amounts. The danger of these compounds is reflected in other names for the foxglove, including dead man's bells and witches gloves. The flower is fatal enough that children have died from drinking the water in a vase containing foxglove flowers.

Foxglove SymbolismOn the positive, the digitalis from foxglove plants is used therapeutically to increase heart contractions and to regulate fast or irregular heartbeats. It is often prescribed for patients with arterial fibrillation. The active compounds are extracted from the leaves in the second year of growth.

The purified chemicals are referred to as digitoxin. Too much digitalis causes anorexia, nausea, diarrhea and blurred vision.


For more on flower symbolism, try our recommended books from Amazon:
Folklore and Symbolism of Flowers, Plants and Trees
The Language of Flowers: Symbols And Myths
The Language of Flowers
The Meaning of Flowers
Forget-Me-Not: A Floral Treasury Sentiments and Plant Lore

Foxglove Distribution

foxglove flower symbolism 2Foxglove thrives in soil that is rich in iron and coal. New coal fields can sometimes be located by finding masses of foxgloves growing together. Foxgloves thrive in temperate zones and like shade, part shade and sun. They do not flower the first year, but flower the second and subsequent years. Their height (2'-5') makes them wonderful plants for the back row of a garden.

Foxglove plants often reseed themselves. They like moist soil, but also need adequate drainage. Foxgloves grow quickly and are rarely susceptible to insects. The blooms will be bigger if they are fertilized.

Growing Foxgloves

foxglove flower symbolismFoxgloves come in white, yellow, pink, rose, red, lavender and purple. Foxglove can be grown either through seeds or divisions of plant clumps. The plants range from 2-6' high depending on the variety. The flowers look best in the back of a garden and bloom in a pyramid shape with the lowest blossoms opening first and the buds remaining closed at the top.

Foxglove Photos for Projects and Design

Need photos of foxgloves? Please visit Dreamstime Stock Photography. Dreamstime is a distinguished leader in stock photography and a major supplier of high quality digital images at unbelievable prices. The Dreamstime database is renewed with thousands of fresh images and titles on a daily basis.

Plant Foxglove in Your Garden this Year

Find plants, trees and flowers at Nature Hills Nursery, Inc. Nature Hills Nursery offers one of the largest selections of high quality live plants and related products online, complete with extensive plant information, while maintaining an exceptional level of customer service. See more photos here.

Flower Bouquet Order Bouquets and Flowers
The extensive FloristOne catalog features flowers for every occasion and an extensive network of florists that allows for same day delivery to nearly all of the United States and Canada. Send a classic gift with special meaning for a birthday, baby's birth, holiday, sympathy, graduation or other special occasion. Nothing else communicates your sentiments quite as well as flowers. See our selection of bouquets and flowers here or go directly to the FloristOne website to see all flowers available.

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