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February 2011
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Penstemon – belongs to the genus Penstemon and family Plantaginaceae

Penstemon is an herbaceous perennial belonging to the genus Penstemon and family Plantaginaceae. They can grow up to a height of 75 cm and spread wide about 60cm. Most of them are perennials and others are shrubs and sub shrubs. The shrubs can grow up to a height of 10 cm to as much as 3 meters. They are native of North American and East Asia. The leaves of this plant are opposite, partially tubular and flowers are two-lipped and seeds are in form of capsules. It is also known as Beard tongue due to its corolla that is hairy and is open mouth shaped with a protruding fuzzy tongue.
They are found in moist forests and in alpine zone. This plant needs full sun and hardy hardiness and Well-drained/light, Chalky/alkaline, Moist soil types. It was used earlier for relieving toothache. They add color to borders and is an excellent border plant and a bedding plant. They form clumps and flowers are long lasting in summer. The flowers are bright, orange-red flowers. They can’t survive long winter. It is better to provide mulch for protection in winter. The flowers bloom by the end of July or from late summer to autumn. They bloom back after dead heading.
There are many species in this category. Few of the species are:
• Penstemon abietinus Pennell Firleaf beardtongue
• Penstemon absarokensis Evert Absaroka Range beardtongue
• Penstemon acaulis L.O. Williams Stemless beardtongue
• Penstemon acuminatus Dougl. ex Lindl. Sharpleaf penstemon
• Penstemon alamosensis Pennell & Nisbet Los Alamos beardtongue
• Penstemon albertinus Greene Alberta beardtongue
• Penstemon albidus Nutt. White penstemon
• Penstemon albomarginalis M. E. Jones
• Penstemon albomarginatus M.E. Jones White margin penstemon, whitemargin beardtongue, whitemargin penstemon
• Penstemon alluviorum Pennell lowland beardtongue
• Penstemon ambiguus Torr. bush penstemon, gilia beardtongue, gilia penstemon

Growing conditions of Penstemon

• These plants need full sun.
• These plants need well drained soils.
• These plants need slightly alkaline (non-acid) soil.
• Add coarse sand in the planting hole to ensure draining.
• The seed is sown in early spring in a propagator or green house.
• They can be grown from seeds and from softwood cuttings.
• The cuttings can be propagated in summer or late summer say august-October.
• The cuttings can be grown in pots.
• The division of the plants should be done is spring.

Care for Penstemon

• Add organic mulch in winter or spring.
• Care from Pests and diseases like eelworm, slugs and snails, and powdery mildew should be taken.

Images of this plant.

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