Smooth blue beardtongue (Penstemon nitidus)

Submitted by Lori S. on Tue, 02/23/2010 - 19:39

Penstemon nitidus, a western beauty... it is happy and long-lived here in garden conditions (which probably makes sense, as it is locally native).


Submitted by Mark McD on Tue, 02/23/2010 - 20:22

I grew P. nitidus many years ago when I lived with my parents up until my college years.  Nothing says blue like P. nitidus, such an outstanding species.  I cannot attest to this plant's longevity in cultivation, as frankly my rock garden at my parents house went into abandon once I was away at college, but it left an indelible impression on my memory as one of the most outstanding Penstemon species ever.

Submitted by RickR on Tue, 02/23/2010 - 22:03

Gosh, I was first exposed to rock garden plants in my college years.  And it was many years after that that I took a heavy interest in them.  No wonder you all know so much!

I think I have P. nitidus seeds again.  Hope they turn out to be what they're labeled this time.  A most intense flower color, even though it is not dark hue.  I've never seen a bad pic of the species, and Lori, you sure can grow 'em!

Submitted by Lori S. on Tue, 02/23/2010 - 22:32

Well, thank you, Rick, but it's certainly not anything I do - they just like to grow here!

Submitted by Boland on Wed, 02/24/2010 - 05:31

Breaks my heart...I can't it in Newfoundland.

Here is a pic of a purple-flowered one I found in southern Alberta.  It certainly jumped out from all the blue ones around it.

Submitted by HughGmail on Wed, 02/24/2010 - 16:17

P. nitidus is certainly one of the harbinger's of Spring along the Colorado Front Range.  Based on the replies above it appears to be a truly global must for the rock garden!  I have P. nitidus growing in a sand/gravel mix in the rock garden, as well as in a lean rock hard dry border, next to cacti of all sorts.

Submitted by Lori S. on Thu, 05/20/2010 - 21:41

After about 7 years in the ground, my old plants started to decline...  so (for once!) I took appropriate action.  I scattered the copious seed they produced around the area - most of it ended up down along the sidewalk... but all the better for viewing, I suppose!  Now about 3 years later, the young plants should soon be blooming en masse!

Submitted by Weiser on Mon, 05/24/2010 - 15:42

I love this Penstemon also. I only have one plant that I moved form North Dakota eight years ago,it is in great shape yet, but has not seeded around. My springs may be too dry to get good germination.

Penstemon nitidus, still doing well out along the sidewalk, from an initial planting of a couple of purchased plants (grown from local seed) in 2002:

This self-sown swarm has developed a lot of pinky tones in the flowers:


I haven't succeeded in getting this one to germinate from any seed I had.... still hope to add it to the growing mix of penstemons in the garden here.