What happened to my foxglove?


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I was given a pot with a huge foxglove, 3-4 stems of about 3' each, covered with flowers, on Mother's Day. The plant looked 100% green, healthy, perky, perfect in every way. I took it outside to my mostly-shady patio, and gave it some water. Yesterday, I realized that I had not seen the foxglove for the past couple of days, and went outside to discover that all the stems have gone limp and fallen over, all the flowers are shriveled and dead except for a few at the end of one stalk, the leaves on the stems are hanging limp, and 100% of the leaves at the base are completely limp, draped over the pot, and about 95% brown. Whatever you call those little green leaves at the base of each blossom are still green, however. The temperature has not gotten above 80°F or below 65°F, and it has not rained. I tried watering it to see if that would help, and a day has gone by without any of the leaves perking up in the slightest. It appears to be 95% dead.

Yes, you read correctly; this foxglove went from spectacularly healthy to completely limp and dead in only TEN DAYS!

What happened? Is there anything I can do?
 
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Where do you live?
Foxgloves are hungry perennials, and not well suited to containers usually. Try cutting it down and planting in the ground. That five percent might start growing!
 
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I'm in San Diego. Shouldn't ANY plant be able to survive in a container for a WEEK? Unfortunately, I don't have any place where I can plant it in the ground.
 
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Well you got me there...yes, any plant should be fine in a container for weeks, given minimally adequate care.

Huh. Is there a chance it got sprayed or exposed to something toxic? Dogs peeing on it? Some critter digging the soil and exposing the roots? Bugs? (Check under the leaves for signs of insect activity.)
 
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I don't ever use chemicals of any kind in my patio area, because I put out birdseed and don't want to poison the birds. I don't have any pets, but it's certainly possible for a cat to have climbed the fence. I'm not sure what insect activity would look like, but I didn't see any bugs in the pot, and nothing looks chewed up.

Is there anything I can do for the foxglove? It was such a huge, spectacular plant, and to have it immediately go limp and dead is really quite dismaying…
 

Jan

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Stand the whole pot in a tray or bowl of water and leave for several hours, if you hadn't looked at it for a couple of days it probably dried out around the roots.
Big plants need very big pots and lots of care,
 
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JBtheExplorer

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How often did you water it? The description sounds like it dried out. Same thing happens to my seedlings when I forget to water. Sometimes they come back, some times they don't.
 
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It's unfortunate but your foxglove might have reached the permanent wilting point and it won't comeback. No plant (well few) can stay alive for a week in a container especially if it's not getting water and foxgloves like water.

Container size and growing conditions are important too. Lots of plants are sold as decorative meaning it not expected to be long lived (see Poinsettias). It could be that might not be in an appropriate size pot (cheaper) and they could have been in controller conditions (cool with humidity) and continually dosed with high amounts fertilizer (attractive for sale) just prior to being sent to the store. Get it home and don't baby it and down it goes fast.

I've grown them once or twice (my climate is similar to yours) and find their water sensitive like tomatoes and sunflowers. Miss a day or so of water and they decline rapidly. Don't forget that humidity (and wind) can be almost as important as heat when it comes to plants. Plants dehydrate rapidly do to dry air and wind.

I'm familiar with your zone and it looks like it had been pretty warm in your area in addition to being dry over the weekend. I would suggest that a Foxglove never wants it's soil to get to the point where it is dry, always some moisture in the soil. Unfortunately (although not having seen it) I think it's just a matter low - no water and it wilted down.
 
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Thank you for all your replies! A few of the leaves on the stems have perked up, and a couple of the stems themselves have gotten firm again… Is that a last gasp, or a good sign?

The only specific instructions I could find on any site about watering foxgloves was that in extreme heat or drought conditions, they should be watered once or twice a week; I naturally assumed that less would be fine when it's not getting above 80°F. I put a bunch of water on it the day I got it, and a little over a week later it was 95% dead. If it was supposed to be watered every day, this comes as no surprise… and that's beyond the amount of care that I can give it.
 
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Sounds hopeful! I'd trim off everything obviously dead, and hope for the best.

I didn't mean to imply you were using any chemicals earlier, btw. But i know that some of the crap people spray on their lawns etc can drift.
 
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You can try this, I do this for newly transplant plants.

Fill a plastic bottle, at the bottom make a hole with a fine sharp needle. Check water should come out drop by drop not in stream. Put it in the container.

Set a reminder to fill it after 2-3 day.

Give one day gap for the root to breathe.
 
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JBtheExplorer

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Thank you for all your replies! A few of the leaves on the stems have perked up, and a couple of the stems themselves have gotten firm again… Is that a last gasp, or a good sign?

That is good news! I would cut any that don't firm up.
 
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Thanks, you guys! 2 of the stems are back up in a normal position, but bent over right below where the flowers are, and the third stem is now up at about a 45° angle. A couple of the buds at the tips of the stems have opened into tiny little flowers. What do you think?
 

TKP665

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Yes, you read correctly; this foxglove went from spectacularly healthy to completely limp and dead in only TEN DAYS!

What happened? Is there anything I can do?

The same happened to my foxgloves a few years ago. I assumed it was the spectacular heat; they got plenty of water. Almost no one grows them here, so I assumed they're just not suited to my climate.

It sounds like your problem was water. A new plant in a container can definitely die in a day without enough water, and the container may not even be big enough to keep it alive. At the nursery it would be getting water constantly.

At any rate, sometimes plants just die soon after planting. I just had two supertunias die inexplicably a few days after planting, and those are very tough and reliable, I was surprised.
 
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Sorry to hear about your supertunias! I had to look them up to see what they look like; I think they're really pretty.

I don't know about nurseries in general, but I'm pretty sure that Home Depot will give a refund on a potted plant that dies in a day, so I tend to doubt that the pot was so small that the foxglove couldn't live in it without constant watering. I have nowhere to plant it, and don't go out to water plants every day, so if it can't survive in a pot and/or without daily watering, it's a goner, LOL.

On the positive side, TWO new green leaves have come out at the base of the plant, so maybe it's bouncing back?
 
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As long as there is growth, there is hope! @Brown Thumb, your foxglove may not reach potential this year but I bet it will rebound in 2018.
 
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I hope you're right, Beth, because it was such a beautiful plant!

There's more good news; there is now a BUNCH of new leaves at the bottom, and at least one little bunch of leaves coming out low down on one of the stems!
 
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It's unfortunate but your foxglove might have reached the permanent wilting point and it won't comeback. No plant (well few) can stay alive for a week in a container especially if it's not getting water and foxgloves like water.

Container size and growing conditions are important too. Lots of plants are sold as decorative meaning it not expected to be long lived (see Poinsettias). It could be that might not be in an appropriate size pot (cheaper) and they could have been in controller conditions (cool with humidity) and continually dosed with high amounts fertilizer (attractive for sale) just prior to being sent to the store. Get it home and don't baby it and down it goes fast.

I've grown them once or twice (my climate is similar to yours) and find their water sensitive like tomatoes and sunflowers. Miss a day or so of water and they decline rapidly. Don't forget that humidity (and wind) can be almost as important as heat when it comes to plants. Plants dehydrate rapidly do to dry air and wind.

I'm familiar with your zone and it looks like it had been pretty warm in your area in addition to being dry over the weekend. I would suggest that a Foxglove never wants it's soil to get to the point where it is dry, always some moisture in the soil. Unfortunately (although not having seen it) I think it's just a matter low - no water and it wilted down.
Thank you for all your replies! A few of the leaves on the stems have perked up, and a couple of the stems themselves have gotten firm again… Is that a last gasp, or a good sign?

The only specific instructions I could find on any site about watering foxgloves was that in extreme heat or drought conditions, they should be watered once or twice a week; I naturally assumed that less would be fine when it's not getting above 80°F. I put a bunch of water on it the day I got it, and a little over a week later it was 95% dead. If it was supposed to be watered every day, this comes as no surprise… and that's beyond the amount of care that I can give it.
I have just received a fantastic Foxglove for Mother's day, with exactly the same results you had with yours. It was suggested to me (and makes sense) that they are "forced into prime" by some retailers to be sold for show, with no concern to what happens once bought . I was wondering,, do you still have the Foxglove you posted about in 2017?
 
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I have just received a fantastic Foxglove for Mother's day, with exactly the same results you had with yours. It was suggested to me (and makes sense) that they are "forced into prime" by some retailers to be sold for show, with no concern to what happens once bought . I was wondering,, do you still have the Foxglove you posted about in 2017?

No, the new growth didn't last very long, and that was the end of it. I hope you have better luck with yours! :)
 
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