Penstemon: Cottage Style Blooms on a Hardy Perennial

Penstemon, also known as Beardtongue, offers height and texture to the garden with flowers in shades of purple, pink, white, and red that last for nearly a month. Growing from 2-5’ tall, tuck these beautiful flowers in amongst the roses so they can bloom in early to mid-summer.

A Hummingbird and Pollinator Favorite 

This perennial includes over 250 varieties and nearly every state has a native Penstemon plant. If you want to draw pollinators and scores of hummingbirds to your garden, choose a variety known to thrive in your local area. Choosing a native plant will result in a hardier plant with less watering requirements. 

Planting and Care

When planting Penstemon, choose a location that has full sun to partial shade. This perennial is generally carefree unless planted in an area that retains too much moisture. Dig a hole slightly wider than the nursery pot, loosen the roots of the plant, and insert it into the hole ensuring that the root ball is slightly above the soil. Pack in the soil around the plant and water thoroughly. Be sure to space Penstemon 12” apart to allow for mature growth.  

Water consistently for the first growing season or until the plant is fully established.

Penstemon doesn't need much deadheading, however, a prune after the first flush of flowers will often result in new growth and a second, later flush of blooms. This perennial is also self-seeding. As fall approaches it is helpful to leave a few flowers on the stalks after the last bloom so the plant will drop its seeds and create new plants for the following year.

A short-lived perennial, Penstemon will need to be divided or replaced every 2-3 years. Divide plants in the late fall or early winter and replant in new locations, allowing the plant to self-seed. This is the best way to increase your plant total while keeping healthy Penstemon in the garden for years to come.

Four favorites for us this season are: Electric BluePristine Lilac PurpleRed Riding Hood, and Twizzle Mix.