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Penstemon / beardtongue

Genus: Penstemon

Common Name: Beardtongue


Penstemon species attract a wide variety of native pollinators, including hummingbirds and moths, along with many species of native bees. The deep, tubular flowers of these plants provide an excellent nectar source for long-tongued bees.


Many species are native to desert or alpine habitats, making them quite hardy and suitable for xeriscape gardens.


Native Regions

North America



Numerous species are routinely available and can be grown in most parts of the U.S. and Canada. Penstemon species typically prefer or even require well-drained soils, but many are also quite drought-tolerant, making them hardy and ideal for xeriscape gardening.





Bloom Time

Spring to summer, depending upon species


Average Height

3 feet


Flower Color







Full sun to partial shade


Water Requirements

Average to dry

Recommended Species

Penstemon palmeri (Palmeri’s pentstemon), whose early summer pink-lavender flowers attract many long-tongued and small native bees, also produce a lovely fragrance - a rare feature among Penstemon.


Penstemon eatonii (firecracker penstemon), a drought-tolerant plant distinguished by long scarlet flowers that are a magnet for hummingbirds, is particularly well suited as an ornamental in dry gardens of the west.


Pentstemon venustus (venus penstemon), which produces showy purple flowers in early summer, attracts a variety of native bees - it is found on sunny, open slopes of mountain valleys and foothills at elevations of 1,000-6,000 feet.


Penstemon grandiflora (large penstemon), native to dry prairies of the central and midwest United States, produces large lavender flowers in early summer that are favored by bumble bees and a number of small native bees.


Penstemon digitalis (foxglove beardtongue), native to the eastern United States, produces lovely white blossoms, enhanced by dark purple nectar guides, in spring and summer - these flowers are sure to attract a variety of native bees to their deep nectar stores.

bee Visitors

Anthidium / Carder Bee

Anthophora / Digger Bee

Augochlorella / Sweat Bee

Bombus / Bumble Bee

Ceratina / Small Carpenter Bee

Diadasia / Sunflower Bee

Eucera / Long-horned Bee

Habropoda / Digger Bee

Halictus / Sweat Bee

Hylaeus / Yellow Faced Bee

Lasioglossum / Sweat Bee

Megachile / Leafcutter Bee

Melecta / Cuckoo Bee

Osmia / Mason Bee

Xylocopa / Large Carpenter Bee

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