Penstemon grandiflorus, Large-Flowered Beardtongue


Large-flowered Beardtongue in a sand prairie

I first came across this fine Penstemon at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, on the Anoka Sand Plain. The nearly beach-sand soil is the perfect home for Minnesota's only all-pink Penstemon. If you have sandy soil, great! If you do not, you will need to amend for drainage -dig and remove soil (if clay), add 2 parts sand plus 1 part organic matter. Large-flowered Beardtongue is endangered in many states, but ours is grown from locally-sourced seed. It will do well with Butterflyweed, Wild Lupine, Little Bluestem, Leadplant, Prickly Pear, White Baptisia and more.

The somewhat fleshy, glaucous (gray-green) leaves emerge in a basal rosette in the first year, then send up flowering stalks in the following years. Our specimens at a minimum in their 2nd year, so should flower soon. Favored by certain Checkerspot butterflies and enjoyed by bumblebees, this showy Penstemon will add life and color to your garden or sand prairie.

Bloom: rose-pink, late May to July on second year or older plants

Height: 2 to 3 feet

Conditions: sun to part sun, dry or very well-drained soil -add sand or gravel to mesic soils.

Growing at the edge of an oak woodland, Anoka County.