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Pale Beardtongue-Wisconsin Native Plamt

Penstemon pallidus

Pale Beardtongue

Benefits:    Bees
Bloom Time:    May, June
Sun Shade:    Full Sun, Partial Sun
Zones:    3, 4, 5
Soil Conditions:    Loam
Soil Moisture:    Dry, Medium
Color:    White
Fragrance:    No
Height:    18 to 30 inches
Spacing:    1 foot

Pale Beardtongue (Penstemon pallidus) is an herbaceous perennial that grows to 2 ½ feet tall. It is native to a variety of habitats including dry or rocky open woods, glades, sandy soils on prairies, bluffs, rocky cliffs, abandoned fields and along railroads. Stems, leaves, flowers, flower stalks and flower pedicels have pubescence of variable density. Basal leaves form a rosette from which rises a central stem clad with narrow, lanceolate, partially-clasping, medium green stem leaves. The central stem is topped from mid spring to early summer (May-June) by a showy upright panicle of two-lipped, tubular, white flowers (often with a pink tinge). The upper lip of each flower has two lobes and the lower lip has three lobes.

The blooming period occurs from mid-spring to early summer, lasting about 3 weeks for a colony of plants. Afterwards, the flowers are replaced by ovoid seed capsules about ¼-inch long or slightly longer. Each capsule contains numerous tiny seeds. Individual seeds are about 0.5 mm. in length or a little longer, triangular-ovoid and somewhat flattened in shape, and dark brown or black. Eventually, the capsules split in two to release their seeds. These seeds are small enough to be carried about by the wind. The root system consists of a crown with fibrous roots or a taproot.

Habitats include dry rocky woodlands, hill prairies, dry-mesic railroad prairies, sandstone and limestone glades, upland savannas, thinly wooded bluffs, rocky cliffs, and abandoned fields. Occasional wildfires are beneficial in maintaining populations of this species, particularly in wooded habitats.

Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Plants have tolerance for drought, summer heat and humidity. Plants may be cut back to basal foliage after flowering to improve appearance of the planting.

Plant Care and Notes:

  Avoid wet, poorly-drained soils.

  Root rot can occur in wet, poorly-drained soils.

  Remove spent flowering racemes to prolong bloom.

  Plants in cold winter climates often benefit from a loose winter mulch.