Penstemon digitalis – Foxglove Beardtongue

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Scientific Name

Penstemon digitalis Nutt. ex Sims

Common Names

Foxglove Beardtongue, Foxglove Penstemon, Smooth Penstemon, Talus Slope Penstemon

Synonyms 

Chelone digitalis, Penstemon laevigatus subsp. digitalis, Penstemon laevigatus var. digitalis

Scientific Classification

Family: Plantaginaceae
Tribe: Cheloneae
Genus: Penstemon

Flower

Color: White
Bloom Time: Late spring to early summer

Description

Penstemon digitalis is a glabrous, up to 5 foot (1.5 m) tall, herbaceous plant with opposite, shiny green, simple leaves on slender, purple stems. The leaves are up to 5 inches (12.5 cm) long. While upright, the stems average anywhere from 2 to 3 feet (60 to 90 cm) tall. The flowering panicle extends to almost one third of the plant’s height and has pairs of branches which repeat with 2 flowers multiple times. The pedicels are almost one fourth of an inch (2.5 cm) long and produce 1.25 inch (3.1 cm) long, two-lipped, tubular flowers over dark green foliage. The plant has elliptic basal leaves and lance-shaped to oblong stem leaves. The flowers are white and are borne late spring to early summer.

Penstemon digitalis - Foxglove Beardtongue

Photo via wolfelab.asc.ohio-state.edu

Hardiness

USDA hardiness zone 2a to 8b: from −50 °F (−45.6 °C) to 20 °F (−6.7 °C).

How to Grow and Care

The best location for your Penstemon is in a full sun area with well draining soil. Penstemon care and maintenance is minimal if the site and moisture requirements are met. Poorly draining soils and freezing temperatures while the plant is still active are the biggest causes of plant mortality.

The perennial is remarkably tolerant of drought conditions and is a stalwart presence in even low nutrient soils. It has had to be adaptable to thrive in windy, exposed areas of mountain foothills.

You can grow Penstemon from seed. They begin as rosettes low to the ground before forming the characteristic flower stalk. Indoor sowing should begin in late winter. Seedlings are ready to transplant when they have a second set of true leaves. Space Penstemon plants 1 to 3 feet apart and mix in a little compost at planting time to help conserve water and increase porosity.

Water the young plants at least once per week as they establish. You can reduce watering as the plant matures. Mulch around the plants to help protect the roots from winter’s cold and prevents spring weeds… – See more at: How to Grow and Care for Penstemon.

Origin

Native to eastern Canada and eastern and southeastern United States.

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