A picture of a Beardtongues


Penstemon spp.

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Partial Shade
Easy care
Moderate watering
Frost Hardy


RHS hardiness


Minimum temperature

Expected size








2 years to reach maturity


    • spring
    • summer
    • autumn
    • winter

    This plant has a mild fragrance

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    Penstemon 'Osprey' 9cm x3


    Penstemon 'Osprey' 9cm x3


    Beardtongues Overview

    Penstemon is a genus of around 276 species of deciduous, evergreen or semi-evergreen perennials or subshrubs in the Plantaginaceae family. They are native to North America and found in diverse habitats from open desert to damp woodlands, and up to the alpine zone. Commonly known as Beardtongues, they produce tall spires of showy tubular or open trumpet-shaped flowers in summer and early autumn. Easy to grow and propagate from cuttings, they are popular with bees and other pollinating insects, and there is a species to suit almost every garden style from the informal cottage to urban architectural. Penstemons have been cultivated and hybridised since the early 19th Century that has resulted in many varieties with diverse flower colours, patterns and ranging in height from ten cm to three m.

    Common problems with Beardtongues

    Penstemon can also be attacked by Chrysanthemum eelworm (Aphelenchoides ritzemabosi)

    How to harvest Beardtongues

    Generally not harvested, stems can be cut for floral arrangements when required.

    How to propagate Beardtongues


    Seed sown from varieties will not produce a plant similar to the parent. Seed from species can be sown in early spring. Place seed trays in heated conditions, and grow on until they can be planted out after the last frost.



    Plants can be divided in spring or autumn every three years to revitalise the plant. Replant or pot up straight away to reduce transplantation shock to the plant.


    Take softwood cuttings in early summer and keep moist until roots have developed. Pot on into individual containers and grow in a sheltered location. Semi-hardwood cuttings can be taken in mid to late summer.

    Special features of Beardtongues

    Attractive flowers

    Other uses of Beardtongues

    Rock garden, cutting bed, border, flower arranging Suitable for coastal conditions.

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