Also known as Beardtongues, there are over 50 wild species in Arizona and New Mexico. With graceful floral spikes in a wide range of colors, drought tolerant and low maintenance, penstemons are a beloved garden plant.
Flowers: J F M A M J J A S O N D (varies slightly by species)
Sun: Full, but prefer protection from afternoon summer sun
Watering: Low, but active growing season is winter so supplement if lack of rain
Growth Rate: Moderate
Soil: Prefer good drainage
Temperature: Tolerant, Hardy to about 20 F
Disease and Pests: Root rot if soil is poorly drained, Powdery mildew if grown in too much shade
Uses: Nectar plant, Hummingbird attracter
Notes: Red and Pink flowers are favorites of Hummingbirds; White, Blue and Purple are native bee favorites. The name Beardtongue originated because many species have a staminode protruding from the flower that looks like a hairy tongue, and the upper and lower petals look like lips. Penstemon tend to be short lived perennials (2-5 years), but many reseed in the garden.
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