Planting With Penstemons: Which to Use and Why?

Planting With Penstemons: Which to Use and Why?

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Beardtongue is a large genus of North American and Eastern Asian flowering plants. A popular and attractive flowering herbaceous perennial, Penstemons display loosely arranged spikes of tubular flowers in early to mid-summer!

With 280 species in the Plantain family (Plantaginaceae), these perennials typically have two-lipped tubular flowers that look like little mouths. Penstemons are better known by their common name Beardtongue because the lower petals (sometimes the entire flower) have furry landing strips that look like 'beards'!

This plant has an array of trumpet-shaped blooms that come in white, pink, red, blue, and purple. Rising above a clump of foliage that can range in shape and size from the lower rosette to the upper stems, many new cultivars have extra colorful to nearly black leaves! Some varieties offer rebloom if deadheaded, while others like to keep the seed heads on for added interest in the landscape.

Learn why the pretty Penstemon was alluring enough for The American Penstemon Society to form in 1946!

Using Penstemon In Your Garden

Red Riding Hood PenstemonPretty in rows or middle to the back of the border garden bed, wildflower gardens, Rock Garden borders, and more Xeric locations in the sun. Plant with prairie grasses and wildflowers to create an informal look, or in evenly spaced rows that wind around your Roses or neatly sheared evergreens for a formal effect.

Throughout the blooming season, Penstemon flowers can be added to the vase arrangement and can remain fresh for up to 10 days! These colorful blooms invite hummingbirds to their tubular florets and bees and butterflies are going to frequent your yard! Penstemon looks best when planted in mass or groupings, giving your bouquets and pollinators plenty to choose from! Brightening your Cottage gardens and Mixed Perennial gardens.

Plant the taller Penstemons in the back of borders, but the smaller ones look great when placed in groups and backdrops for smaller perennials.

The tallest Penstemon grows 3 - 5 feet tall and looks great waving at the back and middle of the garden border among similar plants like Lavender, Salvia, Delphinium, and Larkspur. Mix with the purple wands of Alliums, Liatris, and Veronica. Or contrast them with the spiky discs of Coneflower, Daisies, and Daylily!

This easy-care and low-maintenance plant will provide color for 3-4 weeks after the spring flowering bulbs finish and the summer flowering perennials begin, some reblooming later in summer when deadheaded.

Caring For PenstemonsCaring For & Growing Penstemons

This easy-care and low-maintenance herbaceous perennial will provide late spring and summer color from flowers and foliage and some rebloom if deadheaded. They are remarkably easy to grow and won’t need too much fuss from you to look great!

  • Penstemons thrive in hot, sunny conditions
  • Require loose soil that drains quickly and is slightly acidic
  • Can grow in rocky, sandy, and average soil types
  • Need at least 6 hours of full sun a day
  • Any type of soil with moderate moisture access
  • Drought-tolerant once established
  • Deadhead for return blooms on some varieties
  • Prune back in early spring
  • Topdress with a 3-4 inch deep layer of arborist mulch
  • Divide plants every 3-5 years

Tough as nails, deer-resistant, and bothered by few pests or diseases, these drought-tolerant plants are sure to give back more than they take in the way of maintenance!

Top Beardtongue At Nature Hills

Check out some of’s fan-favorite Penstemons that stand out from the rest!

  1. Husker Red Penstemon - dark red stems, pink blooms and red-tinged leaves
  2. Red Riding Hood Penstemon - bright red blossoms
  3. Midnight Masquerade Penstemon - dark purple leaves, stems and dark pink blooms
  4. Foxglove Beardtongue - white flowering native Beardtongue
  5. MissionBells™ Deep Rose Penstemon - rosy bright pink flowers

Pretty Penstemon For You!

Hardy native resilience, heat and cold tolerance, and brilliant tall blooms, the easy-to-grow Penstemon will become a must-have for your garden beds and borders!

Find all the varieties of Beardtongue at and enjoy low-maintenance and disease and pest-free perennials that are sure to show off for you every year!

Happy Planting!

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