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Ohio NativesPlantsJune 1, 2023by Colin0Foxglove Beardtongue

Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis) is a delightful native perennial that adds elegance and charm to gardens and landscapes in Ohio. With its tall spires of tubular flowers and attractive foliage, this plant attracts pollinators and brings a touch of beauty to any setting. In this comprehensive guide, you will discover valuable information about the history, characteristics, growing requirements, care tips, and interesting facts about Foxglove Beardtongue.

History and Characteristics

  • Foxglove Beardtongue is native to North America and can be found in various regions, including Ohio. It is a member of the Plantaginaceae family.
  • The plant derives its common name from its resemblance to the flowers of foxgloves (Digitalis), although it is not related to the true foxglove plant.
  • It features tall, upright stems that can reach a height of 2 to 4 feet, adorned with lance-shaped, dark green leaves.
  • The flowers of Foxglove Beardtongue are tubular and come in shades of white to pale pink with delicate purple markings. They are arranged in dense, terminal spikes that bloom from late spring to early summer.

Growing Requirements

  • Light: Foxglove Beardtongue thrives in full sun to partial shade. It prefers at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day for optimal growth and flowering.
  • Soil: It prefers well-draining, fertile soil. Amending the soil with organic matter, such as compost, can help improve its structure and nutrient content.
  • Watering: While Foxglove Beardtongue is somewhat drought-tolerant, regular watering is essential, especially during dry periods. Aim to keep the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged.
  • Temperature and Hardiness: It is hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8, making it well-suited for the Ohio climate.
  • Planting: Spring or early fall is the best time to plant Foxglove Beardtongue. Dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball and place the plant at the same depth it was in the container. Space multiple plants about 12 to 18 inches apart.
  • Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plant to help conserve moisture, regulate soil temperature, and suppress weed growth.

Care and Maintenance

  • Regular watering is important during the establishment phase and in dry spells. Water deeply to encourage healthy root development.
  • Deadhead faded flowers to prolong the blooming period and encourage new flower production.
  • Cut back the stems to the ground in late fall or early spring to promote fresh growth and maintain the plant’s shape.
  • Dividing clumps every few years can help rejuvenate the plant and prevent overcrowding.
  • Monitor for pests, such as aphids or spider mites, and control them using organic methods if necessary.
  • Fertilization is typically not required for Foxglove Beardtongue. However, incorporating compost or a balanced organic fertilizer during planting can provide a nutrient boost.
  • Support taller varieties with stakes or plant them in sheltered areas to prevent bending or flopping.

Interesting Facts

  • Foxglove Beardtongue is a valuable pollinator plant, attracting bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds with its nectar-rich flowers.
  • The tubular flowers are designed to accommodate the long tongues of certain pollinators, such as hummingbirds.
  • In addition to its ornamental value, Foxglove Beardtongue has been used medicinally by Native American tribes for various purposes, including treating respiratory ailments.

Conclusion Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis) is a stunning native perennial that adds grace and beauty to Ohio gardens and landscapes. By understanding its history, characteristics, growing requirements, care tips, and interesting facts, you can successfully cultivate and enjoy the splendor of Foxglove Beardtongue in your own garden. Embrace this lovely plant and welcome its delightful presence among your floral companions. Happy gardening!

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