Penstemon Plants Grow & Care

January 25, 2017 in Flowers and Bulbs by Christine

Penstemon Plants Know How To Grow & Care For Penstemons

Penstemon flowers reliable tough perennialsPenstemons are perennial plants and some of its varieties belong to the shrubs or sub shrubs. These plants reach a height range of 10 cm to about 3 meters. Penstemon belonged to the Scrophulariaceae family, but now they are placed in the expanded Plantaginaceae family. They are commonly seen in Australia and can thrive in cool to temperate zones. Penstemons are popular cottage garden favourites. They are described to have brightly coloured, long-blooming tubular flowers on very tall spikes and are suitable as garden border plants and for rock, wild and woodland gardens. The leaves of the plant grow oppositely in pairs on the stem and are lance shaped. The Penstemon flowers do come into bloom mainly in summer. They are hanging to tubular shaped with 5 petals, 2 upper lobes and three lower lobes that are large. The flowers come in a large range of varieties and colours with many shades of red, blue, white and bi-colours. A favourite variety of mine in the garden is blue midnight it displays deep purple blue flowers.

How To Grow Penstemon?

The Penstemons will thrive when placed in full sun or places where you get sunlight for at least 6 to 8 hours a day. They need a well drained and moist soil to grow. These plants will enjoy growing in loose gravelly soil and can also be grown on raised beds, slopes or hillsides. Each plant must be placed at least 18 inches apart. As the roots of Penstemons do not go deep into the soil, you just need to water the soil to about 3 to 4 inches depth.

Propagating Penstemons

The Penstemons can be grown from seeds easily.

  • Sow the seeds either indoors or even in your garden. Make sure that the danger of frost is over and the soil where you are going to sow the seeds is warm.
  • All you need to do is to place the small seeds on top of the soil and then water the soil lightly. The plant will take 7 to 14 days to germinate.
  • The Penstemon will first start as rosettes on the ground and then develop the flower stalk.
  • You can transplant the seedlings that you grow indoors once the second set of true leaves show up.
  • These plants can also be propagated through rhizomes. It is a very good idea to dig up the Penstemons plant every 3 to 5 years and divide them into plants in order to encourage blooming.

Caring For Penstemons

Watering plays a big part to care for penstemons. As the young plants establish, you need to water them once a week. Reduce the watering as the plant matures. Watering the plant during dry periods is essential. Allow the soil to dry out before re-watering. Adding a general or organic fertiliser while planting is ideal and you can feed penstemons with fertiliser once every four to five weeks during the blooming season. You can use a high phosphorus fertiliser during the blooming period to encourage more blooms. You should cut back the spent flower spikes in order to promote re-blooming. Once the blooming season is over a heavy prune is needed to trim the plants back. Adding a layer of mulch around the plant in colder regions will protect the rhizomes during winter. The Penstemon plant blooms from summer through to autumn. They can also be grown in pots as they just require well drained soil and full or partial sun to grow.

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