This longlived evergreen native perennial is covered with pink to purple and white flowers from May through July. Providing both nectar and pollen, they attract Butterflies, Hummingbirds, Honeybees, and Native Bees. Pollination ecologist rate Penstemon sps. as especially important for attracting native bees including Little Carpernter Bees, Mason Bees and and Halictid Bees. One species of Mason bee, Osmia distincta, is an oligolege (specialist pollinator) of Penstemon spp. Birds feed on the Saunders Sallow Moth Caterpillars and Chalcedony Midget Moth Caterpillars that feed on the foliage. The foliage turns wine colored in winter. Our plants perform far better in gardens than any other Penstemon (Beardtongue) in our area. Many species succumb to fungal diseases with overhead irrigation. In our nursery, they are watered three times a day in summer and have never had a fungal problem. The clumps grow fatter by the year. They also spread by seeds. The bitter leaves are generally deer resistant. Plant in full sun to part shade. Although they thrive in wet soil, they also thrive in deep shelly sands. when irrigated. Native to AL, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, KY, LA, MA, MD, MS, NC, NJ, OH, PA, SC, TN, VA and WV. They are rare in Coastal SC.. Only one native population has been documented from the county; a giant clump that I found in a site that was vulnerable to herbicide treatements near the northeastern corner of the county. I propagated our plants from a portion that I took from this clump between 10-15 years ago. I do not know if the orignial population is still extant. I had also propagated the species from native populations in Colleton Co., SC about 20 years ago. A few years ago, I collected some material form a vulnerrable population in Charleston Co., SC a few years ago. Our plants may now be a mixture of these three populations. Some sources say that the species has deciduous foliage, our plants are decidedly evergreen.
For many years, I had misidentified my plants as Penstemon australis (Southern Beardtongue) and sold them under this name. Spring 2020, I rescued a few real Penstemon australis from a frequently sprayed roadside in Jasper Co., SC.. I corrected the catalog on 10/1/2020. If you purchased what I had labelld as “Penstemon australis” in the past, you purchased Penstemon laevigatus. I hope to offer Penstemon australis some time in the future..
3.5" pot, 1 gallon