PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Penstemon a.k.a. Beardtongue

Penstemon is a large genus of plants, many of which are native to North America including several species native to Washington. They are all fantastic supporters of our local pollinating critters. In fact one of our favorite sights is that of a cute little bee bottom wiggling outside the bloom with the rest of the bee inside slurping nectar and gathering pollen. fyi – the name is because the flowers’ lower lip is typically fuzzy or hairy.

Here are a few of our favorites:

Penstemon hirsutus pygmeus – Hairy Dwarf Beardtongue – if this one alone doesn’t speak to the celebration of World Beard Day, then nothing could. It only gets 10-12 inches tall and is smothered at various times from spring through early autumn with the typical tubular blooms which start out pinkish lilac and age to blue-ish purple.

Penstemon grandiflorus – Large Penstemon – this one is native throughout the mountain west states including Washington. Tall 3-4 foot spires of grey green leaves topped with groups of blue to pinkish purple tubular blooms. This one is magnificent in clumps and groups. And even more amazing en masse on mountain sides in early summer.

Penstemon x mexicali – This is a hybrid of our northern native and a southern Mexican native. It shows off the same beautiful tubular blooms in a wider range of colors, extending to more reddish pink as well as to more blues.