Penstemon campanulatus

Common Name: bellflower beardtongue 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Plantaginaceae
Native Range: Mexico
Zone: 7 to 10
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: June to October
Bloom Description: Purple-pink to violet
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Clay Soil, Dry Soil

Culture

Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Plants have excellent tolerance for drought. Avoid wet, poorly-drained soils. Remove spent flowering racemes to prolong bloom. Plants may be cut back to basal foliage after flowering to improve appearance of the planting.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Penstemon campanulatus, commonly known as penstemon, is a compact, evergreen to semi-evergreen perennial or sub-shrub that typically grows to 12-24” tall and to 18” wide. It is native to Mexico. Two-lipped, bell-shaped, purple-pink to violet flowers (to 1” long) in spikes bloom summer to first frost (sometimes year round in the native habitat) on erect wiry stems clad with narrow, serrate, lanceolate, dark green leaves (to 4” long).

This species is a parent of a number of hybrids, often referred to as campanulatus hybrids, which are commonly sold in a variety of different flower colors.

Genus name comes from the Greek words penta meaning five and stemon meaning stamen in reference to each flower having five stamens (four are fertile and one is sterile).

Specific epithet comes from the Latin word campana meaning bell in reference to flower shape.

Penstemons are sometimes commonly called beardtongues because the sterile stamen (technically a bearded staminode) has a tuft of small hairs.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Root rot can occur in wet, poorly-drained soils. Leaf spots and rusts may also occur.

Garden Uses

Sunny areas of borders, rock gardens, cottage gardens and open woodland areas.