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Penstemon

Penstemon

Beard Tongue

Among the most exuberantly blooming plants this side of the Mississippi, Penstemon are part of the enchantment of the West. A member of the Snapdragon family, even cultivated varieties retain a natural air, with dainty, long trumpet flowers and 5 (pent) prominent stamens. Stur­dy and easily cultivated, species usually range from 1 to 3 ft. tall, and vary in color from white to pink to purple to deep wine-red to blue—one for every sunny spot. Trim after the first bloom to encourage a repeat flowering, and cut to the crown in autumn for strong growth next season.

This vigorous, upright Penstemon will enhance your garden with slender, white-throated lavender flowers and unusually glossy foliage. A little taller than many of the Penstemons we offer, it’s best suited for the middle of the border. We like it with Agastache ‘Purple Haze’.

Blooms July–November.

Size: 3' 0" high x 2' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 6.

‘Bev Jensen’ promises a flirty summer show. Dressed with prominent burgundy scallops on the lower lips and dark magenta-streaked white throats, her cerise-colored flowers are big and surprisingly broad. Sturdy straight-backed stems and large, good-looking jade green leaves bolster the bodacious blooms that last ‘till frost –even more reason to welcome her into your garden bed.

Blooms July–October.

Size: 2-1/2' high x 18" – 2' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 7.

Posh, slender and seductive, ‘Blackbird’s moody dark raspberry-colored tubular flowers hang amidst handsome shiny green leaves well into autumn, presenting velvet-rich accents against the frosted foliage of Lavandula ‘Richard Gray’.

Blooms June|#8211;October

Size: 2-1/2' high x 2' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 6.

A tall-standing, bushy Penstemon strictus and Penstemon gloxinioides hybrid that’s full of vigor, ‘Blue Midnight’ entices us with its plushly painted blooms. Ample-sized tubular flowers in deep bluish purple hues display violet-infused, flared petals and white throats darkened by burgundy streaks.

Broad and deep green, the courtly foliage offers a composed foil for the profuse, long-lasting blossoms, while the upper stems transmute red-orange autumnal highlights, extending the colorful show.

Blooms June–October.

Size: 2-1/2' high x 3' 0" wide.

Zone 6/7.

<i>Penstemon</i><i> </i> x <i>iapas x</i> ‘Hidalgo’

Standing head and shoulders above the rest of our Penstemon offerings, this statuesque selection sends strong straight stalks soaring to a height of 5 feet topped with long blooming dusty purple flowers. The plump blossoms are highlighted by lighter throats and are borne in the leaf axils along impressive 10 in. bloom spikes, while good-sized opposite foliage–apple green, triangular and somewhat sticky–boldly wraps the tall stems. Drawn to this striking Penstemon some 20 years ago at the U.C. Davis Arboretum, we still applaud its singular beauty and stalwart drought tolerance.

Blooms July–October.

Size: 5' 0" high x 2' 0" wide.

Zone 7b/8.

<i>Penstemon</i> ‘Dark Towers’

Well-respected Penstemon breeder Dale Lindgren of the University of Nebraska originally bred ‘Husker’s Red’ and now he brings us ‘Dark Towers’, a remarkable Penstemon ‘Husker’s Red’ and Penstemon ‘Prairie Splendor’ prodigy. A vast improvement over his initial introduction, this resolute hummingbird hero delivers darker lance-shaped, plush burgundy foliage and rigid deep purple stems plus regal upright towers, which are openly arranged with abundant tubular pink flowers. The ultrahardy low maintenance clump can be added to borders, cottage gardens or informal settings, maintaining its opulent coloration during warm summer weather, but pouting in poorly drained soil.  (PP#20,013)

Blooms May|ndash;June

Size: 2' 0" – 3' 0" high x 12" – 2' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 3.

<i>Penstemon</i> ‘Elizabeth Cozzens’’

‘Elizabeth Cozzens’s fetching display begins with a slew of porcelain-colored buds crowding tall spires. Taking on lavender shades just before they open, the dainty lilac-pink blooms reveal feisty, dark fuchsia-streaked white interiors above tapered, glossy grass-green leaves. Its easy-to-blend pastel flowers look lovely midborder alongside Salvia ‘Caradonna’.

Blooms June – October.

Size: 2' 0" – 2-1/2' high x 18" – 2' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 7.

Maroon-dappled white throats embellish a copious showing of large rosy purple blossoms, emphasizing a vivid coloration, that’s not too dark and tips that aren’t so widely flared. With long and lustrous, deep green tapered leaves and red-infused stems, Enor’s well-branched upright frame makes an urbane statement in a mixed planting, and looks especially upbeat when positioned near cool blooming perennials like Agastache ‘Black Adder’ and Veronicastrum ‘Lavendelturm’.

Blooms June – September.

Size: 2' 0" – 3' 0" high x 2' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 7.

<i>Penstemon</i> ‘Geoff Hamilton’

Heralding summer with ample-sized wide-open trumpets, this lush looking Penstemon dresses the border in bright, yet deep shades of cherry-red. Long, somewhat broad, rich green leaves bolster the dazzling flowers, whose maroon and ivory throats appear especially luminous when backed by the late afternoon sun.

Blooms June – October.

Size: 2-1/2' high x 2' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 7.

Diminutive narrow glossy green leaves with serrated margins define a well-groomed mounding foundation that looks healthy all season beneath a color-rich display of plum-colored flowers. Opening broadly to reveal striking purple striped white throats, the generously produced 1 in. blooms may be a tad smaller than some Penstemon cultivars, but they reward you with continuous blossoms when cut back midsummer. ‘Ghent Purples’s shorter stature can enhance the front of a bed, top a retaining wall or edge a path.

Blooms July–October

Size: 18" high x 2' 0" – 2-1/2' wide.

Hardy to zone 7.

'Gilchrist's bright rosy pink trumpets burst forth in abundance, numbering some 18 to 25 per stem. Soft pink lips plus light nearly white throats with winetinted striations distinguish the splendid long blooming somewhat diminutive flowers, while a glossy finish energizes the compact shapely foundation of trim narrow green leaves. For a winning summer-fest, this undemanding floriferous Penstemon can accompany Salvia 'Twilight Serenade' and Sidalcea 'Elsie Heugh'.

Blooms June–September.

Size: 2' 0" high x 2-1/2' wide.

Hardy to zone 7.

This tidy turn-of-the century Penstemon has an array of cultivar names that range from ‘Swan Lake’ to ‘Snow Storm’ and ‘Snowflake’, all aptly conjuring the lovely droves of densely clustered white blooms. Distinguished by a bashful touch of pink on the petal backs and striking dark anthers, the pearly 1 in. flowers unfurl from creamy buds with pink-blushed tips. ‘White Bedder’s strong stems and slender shiny green leaves forge a sturdy upright habit that can take a seat among Salvia ‘Sensation Deep Rose’ and Sedum ‘Septemberglut’.

Blooms July–October

Size: 2' 0" high x 2-1/2' wide.

Hardy to zone 7.

Colored with many shades of blue, this handsome, bushy Penstemon offers soothing tones. Topping the narrow, bluish green foliage and red-hued stems, short, showy spikes bear a profusion of slim, bright blue tubular flowers, which look exquisite against silver-leafed Veronica ‘Silbersee’.

Blooms June–August.

Size: 20" high x 18" wide.

Hardy to zone 5.

<i>Penstemon</i> ‘Hidcote Pink’

This Penstemon is turning a lot of heads. Rich, yet soft salmon pink flowers with white throats embellish commanding spikes all summer. ‘Hidcote Pink’ is an ideal midborder choice for blending the forms and colors of other plants. Back it with Buddleia crispa and front with Geranium ‘Rozanne’.

Blooms June–October.

Size: 2' 0" high x 2' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 6.

Spikes of large, bright scarlet-red tubular blooms are heightened by maroon-streaked white throats. Holding court above a medium green bushy base with narrow and glossy, tailored foliage, the salsa spiced flowers play out an enticing juxtaposition.

Blooms June – September.

Size: 20" high x 18" wide.

Hardy to zone 7.

<i>Penstemon</i> x <i>mexicali</i> ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’

A graceful Bruce Meyers selection, this cross originated between wild Mexican and American Penstemons. The flowers appear in droves with as many as 20 to 30 per stem, and are slightly smaller than the more common varieties. With rich violet-purple petals and a white throat, each bloom is a lovely point of color in our native garden.

One of our most cold-hardy Pentstemons, ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ will also tolerate a wide range of soil moisture.

Blooms late July–early November.

Size: 3' 0" – 4' 0" high x 3' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 5.

Another versatile Bruce Meyers selection, ‘Red Rocks’ forms the same pleasing vase shape as ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’, and like that cultivar, is nearly evergreen. The bright cherry-pink flowers are white-throated and lend a cheerful look to our border well into fall.

Blooms late July–early November.

Size: 3' 0" – 4' 0" high x 3' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 5.

Beckoning gardeners, butterflies and hummingbirds, deep pinkish violet blossoms with magenta-streaked white throats open nonstop from midsummer through autumn. The abundant tubular-shaped blooms populate prismatic upright spires bolstered by a dense lustrous footing of pointed, slender green leaves. Ideal for cut arrangements and colder regions, ‘Sunburst Amethyst’ requires minimal care, endures dry conditions and works well in the rockery, a favored container or near a border’s front lines.

Blooms late July-October

Size: 20" high x 20" wide.

Hardy to zone 5.

<i>Penstemon</i> x <i>mexicali</i> ‘Sunburst Ruby’

Arising from a Jelitto Seeds cross between a Mexican and a U.S. species, this compact, ruby-red beauty asserts an enduring versatile nature.

Undaunted by winter cold, summertime heat and humidity, ‘Sunburst Ruby’ bursts into bloom, announcing a wealth of richly colored tubes brightened by white throats.

A stalwart yet poised leafy base features sturdy stems and glistening slender green foliage that maintains a handsome presence throughout the season, and can be associated with Geranium ‘Orion’ and Helianthemum ‘St. Mary’s’.

Blooms June–September.

Size: 16" high x 16" wide.

Hardy to zone 6.

Large trumpet-style blooms feature luxurious wine-hued tubes plus milky white throats inscribed with claret nectar guides. All this floral grandeur lodges upon a stately glossy foundation of erect stout red-tinged stems and winsome narrow green leaves. Celebrated as one of the best Penstemon cultivars, ‘Port Wine’ makes a heady bee-loving addition to containers, easy-care borders or bouquets.

Blooms June–September

Size: 3' 0" high x 3' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 7.

Introduced by Oregon’s Joy Creek Nursery, this robust Penstemon stands straight while delivering flared lavender-blue tubes decorated with white markings and rich purple striations. Similar in color to ‘Stapleford Gem’, but appearing deeper and more saturated, the arresting flowers crown wide, fine-toothed lusty leaves. Combine ‘Purple Tiger’, Aster ‘Lutetia’ and Achillea ‘Marmalade’ in the garden or a vase for a cheery slice of summer.

Blooms June – October.

Size: 2-1/2' high x 2' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 7.

<i>Penstemon</i> ‘Raven’

Large tubular flowers in a burgundy so lavish and dark they redefine the word “velvety,” enhance this Penstemon. Deep green foliage, red-hued stems and a generous blooming season offer additional enticements, especially when planted with Campanula ‘Prichard’s Variety’ and Rudbeckia paniculata.

Blooms June–October.

Size: 2' 0" high x 2' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 6.

<i>Penstemon</i> ‘Schoenholzeri’

(Penstemon ‘Ruby’)

Lush, deep green foliage and rich burgundy stems create a perfect foil for some of the most sumptuous Penstemon flowers we’ve seen. The calyxes and buds are a wine color similar to the stem, and upon opening, each lively red bloom reveals a white throat with pale pink stripes. Intense scarlet and magenta hues, which appear to glow, highlight the flared tips.

Blooms July–October.

Size: 3' 0" high x 2-1/2' wide.

Hardy to zone 6.

<i>Penstemon</i> ‘Stapleford Gem’

Earning the prestigious RHS 1993 Garden Merit Award, this outstanding Penstemon’s large, delicately colored trumpets seems to shimmer with hushed violet-blue-hued petals and paler, purple striated white lower lips and throats. Waxy green, lance-shaped leaves densely cloak the robust lush-looking foundation while wine-red stems add warm accents.

Blooms June – September.

Size: 2' 0" high x 2' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 6.

Penstemon ‘Thorn’ (P-0169)

Each $7.75

AVAILABLE 2020

<i>Penstemon</i> ‘Thorn’

The cultivar name for this Penstemon is deceptive. With deep green foliage, upright stalks that withstand wind and rain, and bright white tubular blooms, which look like they were dipped in raspberry jam, ‘Thorn’ is cheerful and vigorous. The rose-red blossom tip fades to a blush after the flower opens. Accent these color changes and take advantage of size by blending with Geranium x magnificum, Lavandula ‘Sawyers’ or Aster ‘October Skies’ in the middle or front of the border.

Blooms July–November.

Size: 2' 0" high x 2' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 6.

<i>Penstemon</i> ‘Violet Kissed’

As if pursed for a kiss, this show-stealing Penstemon flaunts large, wide-mouthed white flowers with flared, bright purple lips. Not only BIG, but bountiful as well, the sassy blooms exhibit a snow-white throat and mauve tinges on the outside. ‘Violet Kissed’ is a Joy Creek Nursery introduction whose boldly colored pomp, lustrous foliage and tidy habit earn it a warm welcome in any garden bed.

Blooms June – October.

Size: 2' 0" high x 15" wide.

Hardy to zone 7.

<i>Penstemon virgatus</i> ‘Blue Buckle’

A noteworthy low growing foundation gives way to proud stiff upright stems carrying crowded clusters of large blue-violet blooms with lighter purple markings. Poised above narrow gleaming dark green leaves, the uninhibited floral display promises to attract gardeners and hummingbirds alike. Just right for edging a path, nestling in the rockery or gracing a container, this resilient Jelitto Seeds introduction can easily handle heat, drought and cold.

Blooms July–September.

Size: 15" high x 12" wide.

Hardy to zone 6.

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Click here to view our Early October 2019 Newsletter

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