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I've had a glorious display of foxgloves in my garden this year, but now pretty much all of the flowers have wilted and fallen. I don't particularly want to collect seed from the plants, but what should I do with the remaining flower spikes / plants?

Should I cut the spike off the plant near its base? And if I do, will the plant recover to produce another spike next year?

Or should I just get rid of the plant entirely and sow seeds now for next year's display?

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word of warning, some varieties of "Digitalis" are biennials, do you know the exact variety you have? "rsgoheen" answer is a good one, but if you have a biennial variety you may want to either collect the seeds or let it self-seed. –  Mike Perry Jul 13 '11 at 17:12
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@Mike Perry - excellent point. I'm not even sure if the common varieties you find in US (purple and/or white) are perennials or biennial. It's entirely possible that my foxgloves have only lasted a couple seasons and are then replaced by their offspring, thus giving the appearance of the same plant lasting for more than two seasons. –  rsgoheen Jul 13 '11 at 17:26
    
To be honest, I've no idea what variety I've got. I just noticed lots of seedlings in the garden a couple of years back and decided to let a few grow into full plants. First year, they were just leaves, then this year they've flowered nicely... which makes them biennials? –  Mal Ross Jul 21 '11 at 21:31
    
For the record, it turns out my foxgloves are digitalis purpurea, so they're biennials. Nowadays, once the flowering is over, I take the main spike off to avoid too much self-seeding (although some is inevitable) and leave the rest of the plant to die away over winter before removing it entirely in the spring. By leaving the plant in the ground over winter, at least it provides a home for insects and, later, some insect-y food for the birds. :) –  Mal Ross Jul 29 '13 at 10:09
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up vote 8 down vote accepted

Foxgloves are (in Seattle and England) very hardy perennials. You can easily trim the stalk back to the base and the plant will come back fine next year. The only thing I've ever had to be cautious about is the fact that foxgloves produce a large quantity of seed, and they have been pretty good about sowing themselves around my garden. There are times when I've simply pulled up the whole plant when it starts to look a bit ratty, because I know that there is going to be a new crop of foxgloves popping up around the garden next year. And that means that it's also easy to save up the seeds if you want more for next year or have found a particular variety or color that you'd like to propagate further.

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