Penstemon / beardtongue
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.
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.
Spring to summer, depending upon species
Full sun to partial shade
Average to dry
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.