Penstemon - English Favorite From The New World

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Penstemon - English Favorite From The New World
Penstemon - English Favorite From The New World

Video: Penstemon - English Favorite From The New World

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Video: Wildflower of the Week: Penstemon! 2023, January
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Penstemon
Penstemon

Penstemon

Representatives of the genus Penstemon (Penstemon) - plants of North and Central America, there are about 250 species. On the basis of recent genetic studies, the genus was assigned by foreign experts to the Plantaginaceae family, but domestic botanists still leave it in the Scrophulariaceae family.

The genus received its Latin name in 1748 thanks to the British plant collector, Dr. John Mitchell, who worked in America in 1735-1746. Most botanical sources state that the word Penstemon comes from the Greek words pente (five) and stemon (thread) and indicates the presence of five stamens in a flower. However, another etymology of this name is more likely, from the Latin paene (almost) and the Greek stemon (thread), i.e. "Almost a thread", or "almost a stamen". The fact is that one of the stamens in the penstemon flower is always sterile (staminode) and noticeably differs from the others in its bizarre shapes, as well as in that it has several hairs at the tip and protrudes far beyond the tube. These signs were the reason for the appearance of the common English-language name for all penstemons - "Bearded tongue" (Beardtongue).

Penstemones are often evergreen or semi-evergreens, herbaceous perennials or shrubs or subshrubs, 10 cm to 3 m tall. Leaves are opposite, simple, lanceolate, linear, oval or nearly round. Flowers are collected in multi-flowered panicles or racemes on the tops of strong stems, rarely single. The flowers are tubular, often swollen, with a two-lipped limb of three lower and two upper lobes, resembling digitalis flowers. Fruits are bivalve capsules with numerous small brown or black seeds.

Among the penstemons there are many decorative species that have long been cultivated on the American continent, and since the 18th century in Europe. By the way, in the selection of these plants, native America is no match for Europe, where active work with these plants has been carried out since the 19th century. One of the Scottish nurseries offered 500 varieties of penstemon back in 1900! True, by now most of them have been lost, but new ones have appeared, even more beautiful. Penstemones are very popular in the UK, 33 varieties have been awarded the Garden Merit of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). Vegetation of penstemons here lasts up to 6 months, and some bloom lasts until November!

Most English pearls do not winter in our climate, as they were obtained with the participation of species from California and Mexico. And yet there is something for us.

Penstemones for annual culture

Many species of penstemons (herbaceous perennials, shrubs and shrubs) are not winter-hardy in our latitudes. But some perennial species are able to bloom in the year of sowing, so they can be grown here as annuals. Among them is a collective species - hybrid penstemon (Penstemon x hybridus), which combines varieties of complex hybrid origin. All hybrid penstemones are usually semi-evergreen, with narrow, rarely ovoid leaves.

One of the most popular varieties -

Andenken an Friedrich Hahn (syn. Garnet) is a hybrid of Penstemon campanulata obtained with the participation of many species, 0.5-0.9 m tall, perennial or semi-evergreen shrub with thin stems, green spear-shaped leaves and flowers up to 3 cm length of garnet-red color (the word garnet is translated as "pomegranate"), with a white neck covered with red strokes. Winter-hardy up to -17 o C. Tolerates poor and dry, alkaline soils, loves the sun.

Penstemon Andenken an Friedrich Hahn syn. Garnet
Penstemon Andenken an Friedrich Hahn syn. Garnet

Penstemon Andenken an Friedrich Hahn syn. Garnet

Penstemon hybrid Papal Purple
Penstemon hybrid Papal Purple

Penstemon hybrid Papal Purple

However, not all hybrid penstemones reproduce by seeds; most retain valuable traits of the variety only during vegetative propagation.

Papal Purple is a novelty, one of the lowest hybrid penstemons, 40 cm high. Semi-evergreen. It has narrow foliage and abundant purple flowers, with darker markings in the white neck, which bloom from early summer until the first frost. Winter-hardy up to -17 o C. Good for curbs. Propagated by cuttings, seeds are not reproduced.

Penstemon hartwegii is also one of the species grown in annual crops. The species is named after the German botanist Karl Theodor Hartweg (1812-1871), a researcher of the flora of the Americas.

In warm southern regions, this penstemon can winter under mulch (winter-hardy up to -21 o C). The plant is 30-70 cm tall, with straight stems branching from the base. The leaves are narrow, fleshy. The flowers are large, up to 4 cm long, with a long bubble-shaped tube and a wide double-lipped limb, two-colored - red, dark red or purple, with a white tube inside.

The seeds of this plant are the most common in our sale, for example, there is a variety mixture "Chanson" of different colors (pink, red, purple). Plants are quite winter-hardy, you can try to keep them under cover even in the middle lane.

Also not rare seeds of penstemon "Spirit", without specifying the species. Similar to Hartweg's penstemon, it has large ruby-colored flowers with a white neck. Grown as an annual.

Penstemon Spirit
Penstemon Spirit

Penstemon Spirit

Perennial penstemons

There are many winter-hardy penstemons, but most of them are rare here. We will focus mainly on the most affordable ones.

Bearded Penstemon (Penstemon barbatus) is a plant of western North America, where it grows on the slopes of the Rocky Mountains and in woodlands.

Stems reach a height of 90 cm. The leaves are evergreen, dense, from lanceolate to linear, entire, dark green. Flowers up to 2.5 cm, pink or scarlet-red, less often white, with yellow hairs inside the tube, for which the species got its name. Blooms from June to one and a half months, blooms in the year of sowing. Hardy to -34 on C, but it is still recommended preventive mulching for winter for him.

Has a spectacular shape Penstemon barbatus var. coccineus with scarlet red flowers with a narrow, long tube.

We have on sale a low-growing variety mixture "Rondo" - 40 cm high, with flowers of red and purple-blue shades, collected in a dense high brush.

Penstemon digitalis (Penstemon digitalis) is a plant of the east of Canada, the east and southeast of the United States, very hardy (up to -42 o C). It grows in fields, forest edges, open forests, along railway tracks, in the sun and partial shade.

Reaches a height of 60-90 (150) cm. Leaves are dark green, simple, lanceolate, oppositely arranged on rigid branched stems with a slight purple tint. Basal leaves are elliptical, evergreen. The flowers are white, slightly pinkish outside, gathered in panicles at the tops of the stems. Blooms in June. Propagated by cuttings and seeds.

Penstemon foxglove Husker Red
Penstemon foxglove Husker Red

Penstemon foxglove Husker Red

Husker Red (Husker's Red) is a 60-90 cm tall variety with white flowers with a pinkish blush. The leaves and stems are maroon.

  • Joke - 130-150 cm high, grows to almost the same width. It resembles the previous variety, but the flowers are light pink, the foliage is initially red, later it turns slightly green, the red color returns in autumn.
  • Mystica is a new cultivar up to 90 cm tall, with small stem leaves and a lush rosette of purple leaves and dark purple stems. Lavender flowers. The plant is compact, well suited for containers.
  • Red Ace - up to 90 cm high and 45 cm wide, with red flowers and green leaves. The stems are reddish.
  • Penstemon foxglove Joke
    Penstemon foxglove Joke

    Penstemon foxglove Joke

    Penstemon Cobo (Penstemon cobaea) is named after the Spanish botanist Barnabas Cobo, as well as the charming liana - kobea Dry prairie plant of western North America.

    Herbaceous short-lived perennial with a few unbranched pubescent stems up to 80 cm tall. Basal leaves are often absent or dry up, stem leaves are simple, sessile, thick, lanceolate to ovate, 3.5-15 cm long and 1.2-5 cm wide, glabrous or finely hairy, finely toothed along the edge, evergreen. The flowers are large, up to 5 cm long, double-lipped, with rounded lobes, finely pubescent outside, pale purple, white or pinkish, with purple-violet strokes in the throat. Inflorescences are large panicles, sometimes up to 50 cm long. Early bloom, May-June.

    The seeds are often sold in a mixture of colors. You can buy such a mixture under the name "Wedding Bells" from us. Plants up to 50 cm high, with inflorescences of 10-12 flowers in different shades of pink, red, purple. Blooms 2-3 years after sowing. Flowering lasts 20-25 days.

    Penstemon serrated- leaved, or sprawling (Penstemon serrulatus syn. P. diffusus) is a plant of the Pacific coast of the northwest of North America, the range of which comes to Alaska. Winter hardy.

    A multi-stemmed semi-evergreen perennial plant up to 70 cm tall, but usually shorter. Leaves are lanceolate or oblong-ovate, pointed, unevenly serrate along the edge, leathery. It blooms continuously from the beginning of summer with blue-violet flowers up to 4 cm long, collected in paniculate inflorescences. Propagated by seeds and cuttings.

    Unlike most penstemons, it prefers moist soils.

    Penstemon serrate-leaved
    Penstemon serrate-leaved

    Penstemon serrate-leaved

    Penstemon rocky Conwy Lilac
    Penstemon rocky Conwy Lilac

    Penstemon rocky Conwy Lilac

    Rock penstemon (Penstemon rupicola) is a rare species up to 15 cm high and 35 cm wide. Winter-hardy up to -34 degrees. Evergreen, with small oval, jagged edges, thick waxy gray-green leaves and delicate large flowers of pink-purple hues. It blooms in early summer, sometimes again in autumn. Propagated by seeds and stem cuttings. pH acidic to slightly alkaline.

    Conwy Lilac - Delicate purple-pink flowers.

    • Conwy Rose - with mauve flowers.

    Suitable for sunny places, rocky gardens and mini-rock gardens in containers.

    Penstemon shrub (Penstemon fructicosus) is a native of the highlands of North America.

    A semi-shrub with woody stems at the base 30-45 cm tall, growing more in width than in height. The leaves are small, from oval to almost round. It blooms in mid-summer with rather large purple-blue flowers (from pale to deep purple-blue). Winter-hardy up to -31 o C. Propagated by seeds and cuttings. Prefers an open, sunny location (partial shade).

    It has varieties originating from different climatic zones, so varieties can differ in winter hardiness, for example:

    Purple Haze is less than 20 cm tall and blooms profusely with purple-pink flowers. Winter-hardy up to -34 o C.

    • Six Hills is a cultivar derived from Penstemon fruticosus var. scouleri (zone 8a). Semi-shrub 15 cm high and 20 cm wide, which can be grown as an annual up to zone 4 (blooms in the year of sowing). The flowers are pale blue, rather large for a compact plant. Used for mixborders, rocky gardens, containers.
    • Penstemon shrub Six Hills
      Penstemon shrub Six Hills

      Penstemon shrub Six Hills

      Reproduction

      Seed propagation of penstemons is very effective. These plants form a large number of small seeds (up to 10 thousand in 1 gram), which remain viable for 2 years. Sowing seeds for flowering in the year of sowing can be started in February, but optimally sown in March. Seeds are sown on seedlings on the surface of the soil, almost without covering, and germinate under a film or glass in the light at a temperature of + 18 + 22 o C.

      Seeds of perennial species are subjected to monthly cold stratification at +5 o C.

      The substrate should be moist, but not wet. Overdrying should not be allowed, otherwise the seeds do not germinate or seedlings appear uncommonly. Germination occurs within 1-3 weeks, depending on the species. After the appearance of the first true leaves of plants contents temperature was lowered to + 16 + 18 of the C and reduce soil moisture, protect the seedlings from direct sunlight. Night temperatures are permissible in the range of + 10 + 15 o C. Penstemones usually show very good germination.

      Seedlings are planted in open ground at the end of May. There is no need to rush to disembark. Seedlings of annual penstemons do not tolerate frosts at all, and flowering will not accelerate due to early planting, but, on the contrary, will move away.

      Perennial penstemons are more often propagated vegetatively, since seed reproduction does not guarantee the preservation of the valuable traits of the variety. In the spring, after waking up, the plants can be divided. Penstemones are short-lived plants (juveniles) that require renewal every 3-5 years.

      Not all species reproduce by division, it depends on the structural features of the root system. Therefore, you should pay attention to the methods of reproduction of this or that species. Small-stemmed species and shrubs have a compact root system, they are propagated by stem cuttings, which are separated in the spring, at the beginning of regrowth, and rooted in a greenhouse. In summer, plants can be propagated by green cuttings 10-12 cm long. However, spring cuttings are more reliable, as it gives more time to prepare plants for winter. Rooting of cuttings begins after 2 weeks, and at the end of summer, many of them will already bloom. Plants grown from cuttings need shelter in the first winter.

      If there is a cool, bright room for wintering, then thermophilic species grown as annuals (hybrid penstemon, Hartweg) can also be cuttings. They are cut in August and the rooted plants in pots are placed in a greenhouse or on a warmed loggia. In spring, they are grown at a temperature of + 15 + 20 ° C. You can do otherwise - save the selected mother plants, cutting them to 3 leaf nodes, and cut them in the spring. In any case, the efforts are worth it, because cuttings bloom a month earlier than those grown from seeds.

      Penstemon
      Penstemon

      Penstemon

      Growing

      Penstemones are not very demanding plants. They are content with soils of average fertility. Light loams are suitable, for mountain species (rocky, shrub penstemons) - sandy loam and stony soils. The acidity of the soil is slightly acidic or neutral, mountain species feel good even on alkaline.

      In nature, penstemons grow in open areas or in woodlands. In our area, the sun is preferred, although light partial shade in the middle of the day is possible.

      Plants are drought-resistant, do not like heavy waterlogged soils, on which they can suffer from root rot. For this reason, well-drained places are chosen for them. Watering may be required only during dry periods, once every 2 weeks. Penstemon is the most tolerant of wet soils.

      Under annual penstemons, a bucket of humus per 1 sq. m, a complex mineral fertilizer with a predominance of phosphorus (for good development of the root system), and do not feed them more during the season. Perennial species are fed in early spring with full mineral fertilizer at the rate of 70 g per sq. m or simply mulch before winter with compost with a layer of 5-8 cm. An excess of nitrogen causes an intensive growth of greenery to the detriment of flowering, so a lot of organic matter is not introduced. Mountain species adapted to poor soils are not fed.

      Care consists of weeding and loosening. After flowering, the stems are cut, leaving a little for the seeds. Pruning stimulates re-flowering in some species in late summer and early autumn. Before winter, it is better not to cut penstemons, but to do it in the spring so that the plants overwinter.

      Of the diseases, powdery mildew is most likely, which can be fought by spraying the plants with pharmaceutical Furacilin (2 tablets per liter of water). Sometimes slugs eat up the leaves.

      Use in garden design

      Penstemon
      Penstemon

      Penstemon

      The advantages of penstemons are in bright exotic flowers and long flowering. Therefore, these plants are best used where they are well visible. Annual and tall perennial species look good in solitary plantings in groups. In mixborders, they go well with cuffs, echinacea, garden geraniums, carnations, catnip, sage, mountaineers, thyme, stonecrop, Byzantine purse, Louisiana wormwood, duchenea, decorative strawberries, variegated moth and other cereals.

      Compact annuals will fit well into flower beds. Low-growing species can be planted in curbs and edging paths with them. Drought resistance makes it possible to successfully use penstemons as container plants.

      Mountain species and low-growing varieties will become the highlight of a rock garden or gravel garden, decorate a sunny slope or retaining wall.

      Plants are melliferous, attract numerous pollinators to the garden.

      The inflorescences of these plants are excellent material for bouquets. The flowers are cut early in the morning, the lower part of the stems is removed from the leaves and dipped in boiling water for 30 seconds - this way the vase life will last up to a week.

      Blooming penstemons will be a spectacular end to the summer season in your garden.

      Photo: Rita Brilliantova

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