Pineleaf Beardtongue (Penstemon pinifolius): A Wildflower Superstar
by High Country Gardens
Announcing Our 2016 Plant of the Year - Penstemon pinifolius Luminous
The genus Penstemon is rich with incredibly beautiful native species. Having spent the last thirty plus years growing and getting know a lot of different Beardtongue species, I now include several Beardtongue species on my list of all-time favorite native plants. At the top of that list is Pineleaf Beardtongue (Penstemon pinifolius).
This perennial wildflower has it all.
It's long lived with healthy plants thriving for up to a decade or longer.
It's easy-to-grow requiring only plentiful sun, a "lean", well drained soil and, once established, a occasional deep soakings in dry weather.
It has handsome evergreen foliage and grows in a tidy mound like a miniature mugo pine.
It adapts well to garden cultivation in areas of the country where lavender can be grown.
Is highly attractive to hummingbirds who love to pollinate the nectar-rich flowers.
In nature, this species is variable across its range in the mountains of southwestern New Mexico and eastern Arizona, which from a nurseryman's perspective, provides ample opportunity for selecting special individual plants and population from which to propagate.
Here is a summary of the three cultivars that we are offering.
NEW!'Luminous' - a new High Country Gardens introduction for this coming spring. It's won a 2016 Green Thumb award and is our 2016 HCG Plant of the Year. 'Luminous' is a compact grower that blooms in late spring with showy spikes of clear orange tubular flowers. What make this new plant so special is fantastic luminous glow of its flowers in the morning and late afternoon sunshine. Upon careful examination, I discovered that the flowers they have yellow strips in the interior of the floral tube which give them this unique luminescent quality. This variety is well-suited in zones 5-9.
'Compactum' - a cultivar that has been a xeric staple around Santa Fe for at least the past three to four decades. This compact little gem has short, dense pine needle leaves and brilliant scarlet flowers for many weeks beginning in late spring.
'Mersae Yellow' - interestingly, this yellow flowered selection was discovered growing in an English garden and has since emigrated back to the US. A larger growing plant than'Compactum,' 'Mersae Yellow' begins to bloom in early summer.
Companion Plants for 'Luminous' and other pineleaf beardtongues
Pineleaf beardtongue is very adaptable and its brightly colored flower spikes go well with any blue flowered, sun loving perennial such as Catmint (Nepeta), English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), European Sage (Salvia superba).
Cheyenne® Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewisii) is an award-winning native shrub cultivar chosen for its xeric character and amazing display of white, highly fragrant late spring flowers. High Country Gardens 2020 Perennial Plant of the Year – available in limited quantities! Plant this large shrub in part to full sun locations, ideally where its incredible citrus fragrance and visiting pollinators can be enjoyed. A highly adaptable plant that’s both tough and beautiful.
Blonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass (Bouteloua gracilis Blonde Ambition PP#22,048) is a native ornamental grass with a completely new look. The horizontal eyelash-like chartreuse flowers appear in mid-summer and age to blonde seed heads by fall. They are held on the plant right through the winter to provide many months of interest. 2011 Plant of The Year
Standing Ovation Little Bluestem Grass (Schizachyrium scoparium 'Standing Ovation' PP25,202) is an outstanding selection chosen for its blue foliage, reddish fall color and strong upright growth habit. Widely adapted for planting across the US. 2018 Plant of The Year
This is an exceptional small growing, evergreen plant that covers itself with hundreds of bright light orange, yellow throated flowers in late spring-early summer. A western native perennial, Luminous Pineleaf Beardtongue thrives in well-drained soils with plenty of sunlight. High Country Gardens 2016 Plant of the Year, 2016 Green Thumb Award Winner.