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The genus Penstemon makes its home in the Scrophulariaceae family. The same family of genera such as Verbascum, Digitalis, Veronica, and Chelone to name a few. Penstemon is a very diverse genus numbering over 250 species. They grow in almost every type of climate and condition.
Penstemon smallii or "Small's Beardtongue" is a very easy plant to grow. In its native range, mainly the mountains of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee, it grows in light shade in well drained woodlands.
In the garden Penstemon smallii enjoys full sun to part shade at the front of the perennial border or in the rock garden. The pink to deep magenta tubular flowers with purple-striped white throats bloom from May through June. Purple stems bear purple veined leaves up to 6" long, making it an unusual cut flower. Well-drained average to dry soil is the preference. Penstemon smallii can be considered a short-lived perennial, so allow it to self-seed. Ultimate height of this clump forming plant is 12" - 24". It also appears to be deer resistant, or at least the herds of deer that roam my farm haven't yet discovered it.
Propagation is easy by cuttings or by seeds which are set in abundance.
American Indians are said to have chewed the roots of certain East Coast species of Penstemon and put the pulp into painful tooth cavities. They also used Penstemon roots to treat rattlesnake bites and to hasten the movement of the afterbirth from a woman who has delivered a child.
Andi Wolf has put together an incredible site for Penstemaniacs at http://www.biosci.ohio- state.edu/~awolfe/Penstemon/Penstemon.html
The American Penstemon Society is great group of Penstemaniacs, and has an extensive seed exchange in addition to a journal that is published twice a year. Membership in the American Penstemon Society is $10 for US & Canada. Overseas membership is $15, which includes 15 free selections from the Seed Exchange. Dues are payable in January of each year. Checks or money orders, in US funds, are payable to the American Penstemon Society and may be sent to: Ann Bartlett, 1569 S. Holland Ct., Lakewood, CO 80232, USA.
Penstemon 'Husker Red', a cultivar of Penstemon digitalis, was the 1996 Perennial Plant Association Plant of the Year. It was introduced by Dale Lindgren at the University of Nebraska. I've selected a much darker leaved, more floriferous form of
Penstemon digitalis and named it Penstemon 'Ruby Tuesday'. If you can't wait until I choose it for a "Glick Pick of The Week", you can see it at my web site: http://www.sunfarm.com/images/med/penstemon rubytuesday-m.jpg
Incidentally, you will notice that the attached picture is only 36kb this week, a few of y'all have whined about the larger jpgs taking too long to download. If you would like to see this plant fill your screen go to: OOOPS, I just realized that I don't have it on the "Plantlist" on my website yet, oh well, just email me and I'll attach the larger picture.
A complete set of back issues of "Glick Pick of the Week" is available for the asking. If you would like me to send them, or if you would like to first see the list, send me an email. Also, if you're getting more than one copy of this weekly mailing, or would like to unsubscribe, or sign up a friend, let me know.
Copyright © Barry Glick 1996-2020. All Rights Reserved.
Barry Glick, Sunshine Farm and Gardens
696 Glicks Rd, Renick, WV 24966, USA
Phone: (304) 497-2208
Last modified February 24, 2009