Penstemon Gloxinioides ‘Midnight’ (Beard tongue)
Part of a family of plants native to North and Central America only, this lovely drought and deer resistant perennial will grace your garden not only with hummingbirds and butterflies, but with the aestheticism of a sophisticated garden cultivated using indigenous plants that have been studied and bred by enthusiasts for over 200 years. Penstemons are intimately tied to our natural landscape, as North Americans, and are a much celebrated western wildflower. Penstemon are found in almost all naturally occurring landscapes in the North American continent from the highest mountain in Canada to the driest desert of Mexico, adapting to forest, foothill, and plain, and have been developed for the garden landscape as well, allowing us to enjoy their vivid color and profuse bloom intimately. For gardening purposes, you will hear them referred to as ‘border penstemon’ – for upright plants, ‘rock garden penstemon’- for prostrate plants, and ‘shrub penstemon’ – for the larger plants. Penstemon Midnight is considered a border penstemon. Penstemon are part of the Scrophulariacea (figwort) family shared with foxgloves and snapdragons, and containing 270 naturally occurring species and over 800 cultivars and hybrids. There is an American society (penstemons.org) dedicated ONLY to this genus.
Penstemon midnight will grow up to 3’X3’, and last up to 3 to 5 years. In a coastal environment, they can bloom all year round, but are certain to bloom spring through fall inland. They love sun, and don’t need much water in a coastal environment, tolerating poor well-drained soil. Water them sparsely to moderately inland. Their large trumpet shaped deep maroon flowers grow in clusters of 7 off of stems colored deep green /purple surrounded by long, pointed, deep green leaves. The reason for the common name beardtongue is the prominent staminode, an infertile stamen, usually a long straight filament protruding to the mouth of the corolla. Some species staminodes are elongated and hairy, hence…. Beard tongue. Pinch off the first round of blooms for an immediate encore. Trim down to 6 “ anytime you want to encourage new growth, and every winter. Place with companion plants Salvia, Yarrow, Blue fescue grass, Blue Catmint, Artemesia, and Poppies, and your garden will echo the beauty of our beloved native coastal scrublands. We currently have a good supply of Penstemon Midnight in gallon containers here at Clearwater color. Give us a call, “Like” us on Facebook, or check out our website at www.clearwatercolor.com to see photos and learn more about this beautiful plant and many others we grow.