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Wisconsin Native Beardtongues

Beardtonuge

One of the showiest of spring flowers are the Beartongues, members of the Penstemon family. While they bloom time is relatively short, 2 to 3 weeks in May or June, these plants offer beautiful structure and succulent foliage.

Beardtongues and Pollinators

Beardtongues fill a critical role, providing pollen and nectar at a time when resources are dwindling at the end of spring. The large tubular flowers, up to 2 inches in length, are popular with hummingbirds and bees. Beardtongues are visited by a number of bee species including sweat bees, leafcutter bees, and as well as being frequented by newly hatched bumble bees.

Advantages of Beardtongues

  Easy care and low maintenance
  Good for cut flowers
  Attracts hummingbirds and other pollinators
  Tolerates dry soil

Choosing a Site to Grow Beardtongue

Select a site with full sun and well-drained soil. Choose a site where the plants will have plenty of room. Beardtongues don’t like to be crowded.

The soil for beardtongue must drain very well. These plants are prairie natives and prefer rocky or sandy lean soil types over rich garden loam. It’s okay to amend the soil with compost, but avoid manure applications.

Growing From Seed

Penstemons are easy to start from seed. Seeds may germinate better after a period of aging, mimicking their conditions in the wild, so you can store seed for several years before planting. If you sow the seeds in the garden, do so in autumn, to allow a natural stratification period. For more information on seed stratification, read, Seed Stratification.

Growing From Cuttings

can be grown from tip cuttings. Tip cuttings are cuttings that are taken from the ends of the stems and include the growing tip. The growing tip is the actively growing part of the stem. Take your cutting from late spring to fall from stems that are not blooming. They only need to be 2 to 3 inches long. Remove the leaves from the bottom inch or less. Dip the cut end in some rooting hormone and then gently press the cuttings into a container that is filled with soil. The cutting should be buried up to its first set of leaves. For more information on rooting hormones, read, Rooting Hormones.

Wisconsin Native Beardtongue Catalog

Large Beardtongue

Large Beardtongue, Penstemon grandiflorus Height: 2-4 feet
Bloom Time: Late spring
Sun: Full Sun
Zones: 3-9
Soil: Loam, Sand
Moisture: Dry
Color: Lavender

Hairy Beardtongue

Hairy Beardtongue, Penstemon hirsutus Height: 18 inches
Bloom Time: Late spring
Sun: Full Sun,Part Sun
Zones: 3-9
Soil : Loam, Clay, Sand
Moisture: Dry, Medium, Moist
Color: Purple

Calico Beardtongue

Calico Beardtongue, Penstemon calycosus Height: 1-2 feet
Bloom Time: Late Spring
Sun: Full Sun,Part Sun
Zones: 5-8
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Medium, Moist
Color: Pink

Pale Beardtongue

Pale Beardtongue, Penstemon pallidus Height: 18-30 inches
Bloom Time: Late spring
Sun: Full Sun,Part Sun
Zones: 3-8
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: White

Showy Beardtongue

Showy Beardtongue, Penstemon cobaea Height: 1-2 feet
Bloom Time: Late Spring
Sun: Full Sun
Zones: 5-8
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: Pink, White, Violet

Slender Beardtongue

Slender Beardtongue, Penstemon gracilis Height: 2 feet
Bloom Time: Late Spring
Sun: Full Sun,Part Sun
Zones: 3-8
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: Purple

Further Information:

 Wisconsin Native Fruit Trees
 Wisconsin Native Berry Shrubs
 Lovely Native Phlox
 Use Eggshells For Your Plants
 How to Use Banana Peels in Your Garden

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