Penstemon — a bright haze over the flower garden


If you are looking for a flowering perennial that resembles a swarm of moths over a flower garden, then penstemon is exactly what you need.

You will rarely meet this flower in our gardens, but only because of its low prevalence.

In fact, it deserves attention because it is relatively unpretentious (provided that a suitable location is chosen) and fits beautifully into the concept of a landscape garden that is so popular today.

So, if your garden has windless places with noon shade, I strongly recommend planting at least one type of this simple but elegant plant.

For more than a decade, penstemon has been decorating the gardens of the Old and New Worlds.

It features perennial penstemons with green and purple leaves, white, red, pink, blue and purple flowers.

The flowering period lasts from one to one and a half months in the first half of summer — the hotter, the shorter.

Penstemon will fill the void in the flower garden just at the time when the spring plants have already faded, and the summer ones have just entered the budding phase.

Depending on the species, this plant can be an annual or perennial.

The soil for penstemon should be slightly moist, loose and nutritious. Therefore, a place for a young plant is chosen very carefully: morning and evening sun, partial shade at noon. An overgrown curtain will be able to retain moisture due to planting density.

However, waterlogging or stagnant moisture can kill the plant, so the best place for it is an elevated area. Watering frequency — once a week.

If suddenly the top of the penstemon began to dry out, and this is not one branch, then all the affected branches are cut off. Most likely, this is the beginning of the disease and the best way to stop it is to renew the plant with a cut. The plant will recover very quickly, increasing the green mass.

Penstemon hibernates superbly, therefore it does not need shelter. However, if you already have very severe winters, you can cover the landings with dry foliage, which must be removed as soon as the snow begins to melt.


bearded penstemon, cultivar Rondo

Penstemon bearded (Penstemon barbatus)

  • Growth area: western regions of North America.
  • Flowering period: June-August, from one to one and a half months.
  • Color spectrum: hot pink, red, purple.
  • Height: 70-90 cm
  • Growing Conditions: Sun, light humus soils with moderate moisture.
  • Peculiarities: winter-hardy perennial with straight branched stems.
foxglove penstemon 'Husker Red'

foxglove penstemon (Penstemon digitalis)

  • Growth area: East of North America.
  • Flowering period: June.
  • Color spectrum: white, pale pink inflorescences and purple leaves, hot pink inflorescences and green leaves.
  • Height: 70-130 cm.
  • Growing conditions: sun, light partial shade, loose soils, loams, responds positively to fertilizing with rotted organic matter.
  • Peculiarities: perennial, the most frost-resistant of all penstemons.

Sort Dark Towers (Penstemon Dark Towers) — perhaps the best creation of breeders.

The leaves are dark, purple, the flowers are pale pink, the flowering period is from July to the very frost.

Penstemon vertical (Penstemon strictiformis)

  • Growth area: Southwest USA.
  • Flowering period: mid-summer, about a month.
  • Color spectrum: blue, blue-violet.
  • Height: up to 90-100 cm.
  • Growing conditions: Tolerates partial shade, prefers calcareous soils.
  • Peculiarities: frost-resistant perennial species with the largest flowers, forms dense thickets.


In a place unprotected from the cold wind, a blooming penstemon can drop flowers. Keep this in mind when choosing a location.

After four years, the bush of perennial penstemon will lose its decorative effect. You should not wait for this moment, in the third year of growth, plant the young parts of the plant in early spring.


Curtains of penstemons look different.

Some rush up, others spread out in breadth, others aristocratically keep themselves within the framework.

It all depends on the type.

Gardeners recommend planting this plant three times side by side to get a voluminous curtain.

This is especially true for solitary planting. By the way, just like that, and even against the background of a lawn (stones, mulch), you can demonstrate the beauty of this elegant flower as advantageously as possible.

If this is a mixborder — penstemon, despite the growth, they are planted in the foreground, closer — only ground covers.


If we talk about the role of penstemon in the flower garden, then it depends on the species, and more specifically, on the size of the flowers and the density of the inflorescence.

For example, in a mixed planting, when the flower garden is more like a flowering meadow, tall flowers, like moths, soar above the herbs.

If the sparse peduncles of penstemon do not have clear boundaries, then they are a colored haze that envelops nearby plants.

And if the peduncle is dense, like a bearded or vertical penstemon, it plays the first fiddle and therefore does not tolerate competitors with brighter or larger inflorescences.

Here it is best to create a good background for him from lower small-flowered curtains or non-flowering greens.

Like all plants with small flowers and vertical inflorescences, penstemon is especially good in solitary planting, moreover, in large arrays.

As for the partners, they must first of all be «like-minded», in terms of the same requirements for illumination and soil quality.

If we talk about specific plants, then these are sage, catnip, perovsky, soft cuff, phloxes, low-growing roses and non-double varieties of dahlias, vertical and «gushing» cereals, all kinds of stonecrops.


In terms of reproduction, penstemon is capricious. The easiest way to get new individuals is to divide the bush. Do it in early spring.

Grow penstemon and through seedlings. Pre-seeds of perennial species are stratified for more friendly shoots. Burying into the ground is not worth it — the seeds of this plant need lighting to start growing. sowing time — March.

The soil must be constantly moist, for which spray irrigation and a film over the planting box are used. Temperature conditions — about 18-20 degrees Celsius.

Seedlings appear in two weeks. Plants dive in the phase of 2-3 true leaves. They are transplanted into open ground only when warm weather settles at +20. Plant early, bloom later.

Good reviews about the pre-winter sowing of seeds of perennial penstemons directly into open ground.

Cuttings are not a method for the faint of heart, but if you have a greenhouse, then the cuttings will take root well. For them, only non-flowering shoots of an adult plant are selected. The best time is the middle of summer, when you can already see «who is who». The cuttings are placed in a greenhouse in partial shade and strictly monitor the soil moisture.

Rooted plants are transplanted into open ground in early September.

Creeping types of penstemon form self-rooting aerial layering. They are propagated by the separation of rooted individuals. The best time for this is early spring, but it can also be done in early autumn.

When transplanting plants, it is recommended to lighten the soil with compost and sand.

The distance between plants during planting is 30-35 cm.

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