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Plants Online - Penstemon

Plants for sale - Penstemon

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BEARD TONGUE

Family SCROPHULARIACEAE
Penstemon species
Perennial

A genus of attractive perennials, largely for the herbaceous border, natives of North America.

Penstemon barbatus (syn. Chelone barbata) has numerous rosy-red tubular flowers, one inch long, each with a beard on the lower liPenstemon
Its form var. torreyi is more robust in habit and does not possess the characteristic beard; there is also a white form.
Penstemon campanulatus has a free-branching habit, with one-sided racemes of rose-pink flowers.
Penstemon hirsutus has drooping flowers of dull purple or violet.
Penstemon ovatus will reach two to three feet with flowers, about three-quarters of an inch long, of bright blue fading to purple.
Penstemon antirrhinoides, one to three feet, lemon-yellow
Penstemon confertus, one foot, purple and blue
Penstemon glaber, one to two feet, purple, are all worth growing.
Penstemon hartwegii, usually grown as a biennial, has large tubular flowers of a bright scarlet.

Sunny position and a well-drained rich loam, containing plenty of humus, are the essentials.

Propagate from cuttings or seed.

The flowering season is in summer and autumn.

Pentstemon
Hardy and Half Hardy Perennial.
Two to three feet.
Flowers of many colours, June to November.

Of the strictly herbaceous and perennial Pentstemons the best are Jaffrayanus, eighteen inches high, flowers blue; and ovatus, three feet, purple blue.
Chelone barbata is often called a Pentstemon, and it is very closely allied to the family (see Chelone).

The perennial Pentstemons form spikes of tubular bells, on the modal of a Foxglove spire; they require good rich loam, and sufficient moisture; and they may be raised wither from seed or cuttings.

The hybrid Pentstemons are a much more numerous and showy tribe; for grace of growth and contrast of colour they are hard to beat among the tube-shaped flowers.
Their only defect is that they are not strictly perennial.
A severe winter, particularly where the soil is wet, will sometimes wipe out a whole collection; and when this does not happen, the plants deteriorate and die out in the course of a few years, those with the finest flowers being unfortunately the first to disappear.
To keep up a good stock of plants there must be annual replenishing, either by buying new plants, making cuttings from the old, or sowing seed.

The hybrid Pentstemon forms a branching upright bush, as much as a yard high, the shoots ending in spikes of tube-shaped flowers with an extending lip, something like a Foxglove.
The colours comprise pure white, cream or pale sulphur, many shades of pink and rose, crimson, violet, “salmon”, plum-colour and maroon.
In some flowers the whole tube is of one colour, but as a rule the lip and crest are coloured, and the throat is white, either pure, or veined with another tint.
The fibre of the plant is rather brittle, and in exposed places support may be required.
The finest strain of Pentstemons has been raised in France quite recently; its flowers are of very rich colouring, and half as large again as those of the older varieties.

In beginning a collection, plants should be ordered of a good house in April.
As a rule, the best specimens of Pentstemons seem to come from Scotland.
The beginner may pick out named sorts at his fancy from the grower’s catalogue, or may order so may dozens or hundreds to be selected by the nurseryman.
When received, the plants must be put out in good, well-dug soil; poor ground should have a good dose of rotten manure and leaf-mould dug in. the plants may be dotted about in mixed borders; but they look best together in beds, put out about a foot or fifteen inches apart every way.

By the end of the season they ought to be a yard high, and proportionate in diameter; they will keep their leaves through the winter, unless the frost is exceptionally severe, and should not be cut down until March of the following year. By that time, some of the old wood will have died back, and the whole growth must be cleared away with a sharp knife, just above the new shoots which will be visible at the base.
Strong growers will continue thus for four or five years; but ultimately the root-stock becomes enfeebled and partially decayed, and the plant must be cleared away before it becomes unsightly.

Cuttings should be made from well-ripened side shoots which spring from the base of the pant; the end of August and September is the time.
The pieces chosen should be about four inches long, and must be cut square across just below a joint with a sharp knife; dibble them without loss of time in soil which has plenty of silver or “sharp” sand mixed with it.
The best bed for the cuttings is under a light or frame, where they can be kept fairly moist and shaded from sun and drying winds, and can be protected during the winter from hard frost.

By March they should be nicely rooted, and ready to put out, but they are decidedly uncertain in their behaviour; unfortunately the choicest sorts seem always the most difficult to strike, and in a moist and cool summer which fails properly to ripen the wood of the plants, only a small percentage will succeed.

By raising yearly from seed abundance of fine flowers may be obtained a little late in the season; plants raised thus are the picture of vigour and health.

By sowing on mild heat in pans or boxes of sandy soil at the end of February, pricking out when needful, and growing on with the routine of half-hardy perennials, a most enviable show may be obtained by the end of August.

Seed may also be sown in a cool frame or greenhouse in May; the seedlings, which will not be strong enough to flower effectually the first summer, should be put separately into small pots, or planted under the lights of a frame, where they may stand the winter, and be ready for planting out in April.


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