Pineleaf Beardtongue (Penstemon pinifolius): A Wildflower Superstar


Close Up: 2016 Plant of the Year Luminous Pineleaf Beardtongue

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.


Penstemon pinifolius Luminous - 2016 Plant of the Year
  • 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).

Plants Of The Year >> View All

  • Ava's Hummingbird Mint (Hyssop) Agastache Ava

    Starting at $10.99

    Sale: $9.89

    Per Plant - 5" deep pot

  • Blonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass Bouteloua gracilis Blonde Ambition PP#22,048

    Starting at $11.49

    Sale: $10.34

    Per Plant - 5" deep pot

  • Luminous Pineleaf Beardtongue Penstemon pinifolius Luminous

    Starting at $10.99

    Per Plant - 5" deep pot

  • Straight Up Red Texas Yucca Hesperaloe parviflora Straight Up Red PPAF

    Starting at $11.99

    Sale: $10.19

    Per Plant - 5" deep pot

  • Blue Flame Giant Purple Sage Salvia pachyphylla Blue Flame

    Starting at $8.99

    Sale: $8.54

    Per Plant - 5" deep pot

10 thoughts on “Pineleaf Beardtongue (Penstemon pinifolius): A Wildflower Superstar”

  • ruth sholtz
    ruth sholtz 01/13/16 at 4:40 pm

    Is this newer species rabbit-proof? I planted many of the earlier (last year) species and the rabbits ate it down to the earth/sand. If not rabbit-proof, what do you recommend. I live in the high desert; love the flowers of the plant, until they disappear. Thank you for answering this email. Ruth Sholtz

    • Wendy

      It is rabbit resistant. We woudn't say any plant is "rabbit proof." If they get hungry enough, they will eat them. More fragrant plants tend to be rabbit (and deer) resistant, as they don't like the taste. Oregano, Sage, Lavender are all good choices if you are plagued by browsing animals.

  • Eleanor Roquet
    Eleanor Roquet 01/13/16 at 6:09 pm

    What are the growing zones for Penstemon pinifolius Luminous?

  • Shirley

    What is the lowest cold temperature the Luminous can take? Does it reseed or grow back from the root?

    • Wendy

      Penstemon 'Luminous' is cold hardy (once established) to USDA zone 5 (-20 F). It is an evergreen plant, so it does not die back to the crown in winter. Planted by itself, it will not set much viable seed, but will produce seed when planted with other non-'Luminous' Penstemon pinifolius plants.

  • Bets English
    Bets English 01/23/16 at 5:49 pm

    I live a block from Tonto National Forest aND elk are frequent visitors in my yard. They don't eat sage -- what about the

  • Jill

    The article could be more helpful if the information included what zones this plant will grow/survive in. Thanks.

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