11) Penstemon and other Scrophulariaceae

How to start a small rock garden for growing Penstemon?

Submitted by sf2bos2prov on Wed, 10/02/2019 - 12:51

Here in Boston, this was a good year learning about Penstemon and I've grown some species in pots filled with various gravel and grit, thanks to help I received here.  Now I'm ready to go a step further.  I have a small sunny area of about 6 or 8 feet long and 1 foot wide at the front of a flower bed, in which I'd like to create a small rock garden to grow some of the low-growing Penstemon species, maybe even some of the blue-flowering ones.  But I have no idea how to create a small rock garden.  Can someone point me in a good direction?  Are there resources for doi

For growing Penstemon in the northeast, dig in gravel or use as mulch?

Submitted by sf2bos2prov on Sat, 04/27/2019 - 18:51

I'm growing several European hybrid strains of Penstemon  (Twizzle and Rondo) that I started from seed and now have growing nicely inside under growlights.  I also winter-sowed several species in milk jugs which surprisingly are doing reasonably well (though still only tiny seedlings) considering they're growing in regular moisture-retentive potting soil: P. pallidus, P. grandiflorus, P. richardsonii, P. serrulatus, P. tubaeflorus, P. cardwellii, P. cardinalis.

Type of potting material for planting penstemon seed

Submitted by sf2bos2prov on Sun, 02/10/2019 - 12:12

Here in Boston, over the next week I'm going to start seed for various species of Penstemon in pots which I'll cover with window screen and leave outside. To prepare, I went to Agway and bought 50 lbs of pea gravel, 50 lbs of Turface, 10 lbs. chicken grit (maybe I should get turkey grit instead?) and 10 lbs crushed oyster shells.  I also have regular potting mix that I would use for my regular non-Penstemon east coast species.

Preparing a flower bed for dryland Penstemons in US east

Submitted by sf2bos2prov on Fri, 12/21/2018 - 18:03

I'm here in Boston and want to start thinking about how to provide the drainage that many Penstemon species need since I don't yet have a rock garden.  I've had reasonable luck with some of the eastern species in my regular (fairly rich) garden soil but now want to try my hand at some of the western species as well.  Can I possibly provide the drainage and thinnish soil that the Penstemon need by digging in a good amount of pea stone/gravel to my regular soil in those beds where I want to grow them?

Penstemon breeding in Europe

Submitted by sf2bos2prov on Fri, 10/26/2018 - 19:15
The Wikipedia article about Penstemon notes:  “Although penstemons are among the most attractive native flowers of North America, Europe has traditionally been far more active in their hybridization with hundreds of hybrids developed since the early 19th century."  
Why is this so? Is it that the North American natives don’t grow well in the moister climate of Europe, so the Europeans have created hybrids that do better in their wet climate?  Or do the Europeans just appreciate beauty? Or...?

Growing Penstemon from seed in Massachusetts

Submitted by sf2bos2prov on Sun, 10/21/2018 - 15:02

Hello, I'm in eastern Massachusetts in zone 6b, new to NARGS, and have recently fallen in love with Penstemon even though I know most species are native to the west.  I have a regular flower bed (not a rock garden and not amended with sand or gravel) that I'd like to give over to Penstemon next year.  I'd like to grow several different species from seed.

Penstemon venustus

Submitted by Lori S. on Tue, 07/22/2014 - 22:42

Appreciating penstemons at a rather different level than usual, here are some close-ups of the flowers of Penstemon venustus, showing some of the identifying features, as referenced from Lodewick and Lodewick (Key to the Genus Penstemon).

The stamen filaments are hairy just below the anther*: