Penstemon digitalis

Penstemon digitalis 'Smooth Beardtongue'

Penstemon digitalis 'Smooth Beardtongue' June 2008

This is one of the native plants I added last year to the Woodland Garden.  It had one bloom stalk when I purchased it and then it was just foliage throughout the rest of the season.  The basal foliage remained evergreen with a tint of burgundy on the leaves all winter.  Here you can see Spaz giving it a curious sniff last June. 


Here it is almost a year later and wow has it grown!  It must of tripled at least in size and is covered in buds just waiting to burst open.  Here is some info on this wonderful native perennial:

  • Easy & longblooming  from May to June
  • Spikes of white snapdragon like flowers with pink stripes
  • 24 – 48 inches in height
  • Prefers Sun to Part Shade
  • Prefers average and well drained soil
  • Spreads by seed so remove seed heads to prevent reseeding
  • Attracts Butterflies & Hummingbirds
To the far right: Penstemon canescens 'Gray Beardtongue'

To the far right: Penstemon canescens 'Gray Beardtongue'

This spring I added another variety called ‘Gray Beardtongue’.  The foliage is a dark green with burgundy veining.  I’m not expecting too much from it this year but can’t wait till next spring.  As the old saying goes, the first year they sleep, the second year they creep and the third year they leap!


15 responses to this post.

  1. I really like that one. I picked up a red penstemon this spring. The first one I’ve tried. Hope it does as well as yours.

    Thanks Marnie, I hope your red one does well too! 🙂


  2. Aren’t they lovely. It’s hard to beat penstemons! The bees will be even happier in your garden! I don’t remove the seedheads in the Garden of Benign Neglect…but that’s what that garden is all about! They do seed! But are easily transplanted! You will have plenty for your garden and your friend’s gardens! Not sure that convinces anyone to let them go to seed! I hope your weekend was lovely! gail

    I’m definitely hooked now Gail! Maybe I will let a few reseed so I can spread this beauty elsewhere. 🙂 It was a lovely weekend in & out of the garden, thanks for asking.


  3. I love all the Penstemons, there are so many and they’re all great!

    I only have two so far & I’m hooked Monica! 🙂


  4. They sure do leap, don’t they? Some of my penstemon have yet to come up. I’m really stating to worry about them now. How are your seeds doing? I’m still waiting for my clematis to pop up. I hope they come up soon!

    Yes they do and it’s amazing how much sometimes. Hope you see some signs of life from your Penstemons & Clematis soon Cinj. My seeds are all germinated and doing well. Thanks!


  5. LOL at the puppy checking out new plants for the garden 🙂

    Yep she is a nosy little thing, lol! 😉


  6. They’re all beauties — a native plant sale would be just the thing!

    Thanks Nancy, they have two a year here at a local Living Museum. It’s become my bi-annual ritual! 🙂


  7. I am loving all your woodland plants and have learned so much from your posts on them.

    Why thank you Tina, I’m glad you find my posts about them educational! 🙂


  8. Very nice Racquel. Looks like you are building a wonderful woodland garden. Nice variety.

    Thank you Janet. I’m pretty pleased with it thus far. 🙂


  9. That saying is so true!!

    Thanks Darla, it says it all doesn’t it! 🙂


  10. Racquel,
    We have penstemons growing in the garden and we don’t even remember planting them. LOL It was a nice surprise. 🙂

    Hi J & R, that is a nice surprise. Maybe they were volunteers? 🙂


  11. I like that old saying. Very true for so many plants – though in some cases I could do without the leaping stage!

    I know what you mean EG, sometimes things get a bit larger than the labels stated. 😉


  12. If they leap in the 3rd year, it’s going to be incredible Racquel. It already looks quite happy! I don’t think you can beat a penstemon ~ I love them all too and usually buy any I can find. They are so low maintenance and long flowering.

    Hope it doesn’t get too much taller than this Kathleen though. Fuller I can deal with. 🙂 This is my first experience with growing Penstemon and I’m hooked. lol


  13. That was quite a leap!! (I love that saying!) Sounds like a great plant to have…I may need to make a purchase really soon! 🙂

    It was quite a leap Linda. Caught me by complete surprise! I’m not disappointed with Penstemons, you need to add some to your garden soon. 🙂 The hummers will thank you for it.


  14. Racquel~~ I like this Penstemon’s winter staying power. So few perennials have this merit. On the “leap” year, you’ll be able to divide it and have more plants, and more is always better.

    I’m a huge penstemon fan. I don’t have this particular species but I’m looking now. 🙂

    Me too Grace, it was something interesting to look at this winter when alot of the herbaceous perennials had shriveled up. Maybe I’ll be able to share tons of this plant with all my generous neighbors. Glad I could make you aware of another great Penstemon for the garden! 🙂


  15. I have a ‘Sour Grapes’ Penstemon that must be in the sleep stage cause it hasn’t done anything since I planted it in the fall.

    Hope it wakes up soon Susie. That’s an interesting name for your Penstemon. 🙂


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