foxglove flower meaning

Foxglove Flower Meaning and Unique Symbolism

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The foxglove flower, or Digitalis, is not the most common flower you will see in a backyard garden. However, in recent years, it has grown in popularity. Could that perhaps be because of this flower’s deep hidden meaning?

If you’re curious about the symbolic meaning of the foxglove plant, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s the symbolism behind the foxglove flower.

What is the Etymological Meaning of Foxglove?

purple foxglove

Before we can dive into the foxglove flower meaning in the language of flowers, let’s look at the etymological meaning of the foxglove. Here are some interesting facts.

The common name for this flower, foxglove, is most directly tied to folklore. The flower’s name is a loose derivative of the phrase, “folk’s gloves” with “folk” referring to fairy folk. Some people believed that the fox wore these flowers as gloves so that he would not be caught while ransacking a chicken coop.

Other folklore insists that picking foxglove flowers is offensive to fairy folk. Probably, this was a story told to small children to prevent them from picking and eating the poisonous plant.

Still, other traditions hold that the foxglove’s name comes from its similarities to an ancient musical instrument known as the fox’s glew. It does, after all, have an iconic bell shape. 

The scientific name for foxglove is “digitalis.” It is in the digitalis genus. This name is a direct reference to the powerful chemicals in the plant that, when taken correctly, can heal and resolve many heart conditions – but when taken in excess, can be deadly. 

Because of this dichotomy, the flower is often referred to as witches gloves and dead man’s bells, too. 

More Interesting Facts About Foxglove Flowers

Here are more facts to know about the foxglove flower meaning and growth habit.

When Do Foxglove Flowers Bloom?

Foxglove flowers typically bloom from late spring to early summer, depending on your location. In temperate zones, they can often be seen in full bloom in May and June.

However, if you are in places like the Canary Islands or northwestern Africa, you may see foxglove flowers blooming year-round! Another interesting tidbit is that foxglove plants typically only bloom in their second year of growth.

Caring for Foxglove Plants

To care for your foxglove plants, it’s important to keep them in a spot that gets plenty of light but isn’t too hot. They also prefer moist, well-drained soil. When planting, make sure to give them plenty of space, as foxglove plants can grow quite tall! I

Is the Foxglove a Poisonous Plant?

Yes, unfortunately, the foxglove plant is extremely poisonous. Its leaves, flowers, and seeds all contain digitalis glycosides, which can cause cardiac issues, nausea, and even death in extreme cases. Due to its toxic nature, you should keep it away from kids and pets.

How to Plant Foxglove Seeds

The best time to plant foxglove seeds is usually in the fall, so they have time to establish before blooming in the spring. Select a spot with plenty of light, and make sure the soil is well-drained.

Different Types of Foxglove

Some of the most common include the rusty foxglove, which has orangey-red flowers, and the common foxglove, which has tall spires of pink or purple blooms. Digitalis purpurea, the scientific name for the common foxglove, is also the species typically used medicinally.

Does Foxglove Have Medicinal Properties?

As mentioned earlier, the digitalis glycosides found in foxglove plants can be used to treat heart conditions (when prescribed by a doctor, of course). The plant has a long history of use in traditional medicine, dating back to ancient Greece.

Interestingly, foxglove flowers are also known to attract bees, which can be beneficial for pollinating other plants in your garden.

What Do Foxgloves Symbolize?

pink foxglove

Foxgloves are unique flowers in that they have strong symbolic meaning – both in a positive and negative way. The flowers are often associated with insincerity, and have the ability to evoke meanings that can both hurt and heal. 

They can be used to symbolize a variety of other themes, too, including pride, energy, magic, ambition, intuition, and creativity. They are often used to symbolize productivity, communication, cooperation, and confidence, too. 

There are many bright colors of these flowers, sometimes referred to as “Dead Men’s Bells.” The symbolism changes depending on these colors. Let’s take a closer look at the foxglove flower meaning by color.

What Do Pink Flowers Symbolize?

Pink flowers are commonly associated with love, admiration, and gratitude, and the same goes for pink foxglove flowers. They convey the message of appreciation and are often given to someone as a thank-you gesture.

Pink foxgloves also represent femininity, gentleness, and sensitivity, making them perfect for occasions that celebrate women.

What Does the White Foxglove Flower Mean?

White flowers, on the other hand, symbolize purity, innocence, and divine love. They are often used in wedding bouquets and other religious ceremonies as a representation of holy matrimony.

Similar to white roses, white foxgloves can also signify a new beginning, as they are associated with fresh starts and clean slates.

What Do Yellow Flowers Mean?

Yellow flowers in general symbolize friendship, happiness, and hope, and yellow foxglove flowers are no exception. They represent positivity, optimism, and joy, and are often given as a gesture of encouragement or support.

Yellow foxgloves can also symbolize freedom, as they are bright and adventurous blooms that can make anyone feel free-spirited.

What is the Purple Foxglove Flower Meaning?

The color purple is often associated with royalty and elegance, and the same goes for purple foxglove flowers. They convey a sense of sophistication and refinement and are often used to express admiration or appreciation.

Purple foxgloves can also symbolize mystery and intrigue, as they are alluring blooms that can capture one’s attention and imagination.

What is the Foxglove Flower Meaning If They Are Multiple Colors?

Sometimes, foxglove flowers come in a mix of colors, and each color carries its own individual meaning. Mixed color foxgloves represent diversity, uniqueness, and variety, making them perfect for occasions that celebrate differences and individuality.

They can also symbolize change, as each color represents a different aspect of transformation and growth.

What is the Cultural Significance of a Foxglove?

foxglove flowers

There is plenty of cultural heritage tied to the foxglove flower. In addition to the popularly traded folk traditions detailed above, the foxglove flower was often grown in medieval gardens dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Here, foxglove was referred to as “Our Lady’s Gloves,” or “the gloves of the Virgin.” 

What is the Symbolism of a Foxglove Tattoo?

The delicate foxglove isn’t an image that’s chosen often for tattoos. However, when this tattoo is selected (most often by women), it usually symbolizes accomplishment and confidence in this accomplishment.

It can also be used to represent the innocence of childhood and its accompanying sense of imagination.

When Should You Give Someone a Foxglove?

purple foxglove flowers

Foxglove flowers are not given as gifts very often, probably because of their potential toxicity. If you are going to give someone a foxglove flower, why not give them a few seeds so they can try growing their own?

There are many types of foxglove flowers out there, including those in the Camelot series and Dalmation series. These flowers bloom in late spring to early summer and can be found in all kinds of colors, including white, purple, and pink.

There are many purple flowering plants you can grow in your garden and purple foxglove flowers seem to be one of the favorites for gardeners.

*Photo by edb3_16/depositphotos

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