If you want a beautiful garden, Penstemon (beardtongue) is a must-have. This flowering plant producing different colors in bloom creates a majestic beauty.
It has many varieties, most of which are from the Nearctic (North America). It is a perennial plant which is very slow-growing.
One quality of the plant is that it can handle scorching heat and dry conditions and still produce many beautiful flowers.
There are different varieties of penstemon, which include Dark Towers, Elfin Pink, Husker Red, Jingle Bells, Piña Colada, and Red Riding Hood.
This article will discuss good companion plants, some bad companion plants, their growing needs, and the pests and diseases it is prone to.
Why Does Penstemon Need Companion Plants?
Penstemon is generally a hardy plant that does not require other plants to assist them in growing; rather, it can thrive well alone.
Still, there are some plants that, if planted nearby, will create good visual beauty in the garden. Penstemon, being a good flowering plant, needs plants that will complement its beauty. Artemisia is one such plant that, if planted, will enhance the vibrancy of the garden.
Penstemon is a plant that likes to bloom in the summertime; plants that have a similar blooming time, such as coneflower and black-eyed Susan, make the garden produce vibrancy.
5 Best Penstemon Companion Plants
There are certain plants that do well around penstemon and are called as good companion plants. Let us have a look at some of these good companion plants.
1. Salvia (Sage)
Penstemon and Salvia are some of the best neighbors around. They both share similar growing conditions and flower shapes. The sunlight requirements are also the same, where they require 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. Both these plants need well-drained soil and showcase beautiful flowers.
Another good neighbor of Penstemon is lavender, as they both are sun-loving plant and needs good sandy soil, which should be well-drained.
The main benefits of planting penstemon alongside lavender are it will attract beneficial pollinators like bees and butterflies, which will enhance the productivity and blooming of the garden.
3. Echinacea (Coneflower)
Penstemon pairs well with echinacea or coneflowers. As we know, penstemon can withstand hot climates echinacea is also a drought-tolerant plant, and their same growing requirements make them a good partner.
Echinacea’s daisy-like flowers contrast nicely with Penstemon’s tubular blooms, creating visual interest.
4. Agastache (Hyssop)
Agastache or hyssop, commonly known as hummingbird mint, is a perennial plant that likes the sun, produces beautiful flowers, and attracts butterflies, which helps in pollination.
5. Coreopsis (Tickseed)
Tickseed, or Coreopsis, is considered a good companion plant of penstemon. It is a perennial plant, more like a daisy flower. It is a very low-maintenance plant and blooms in various different colors.
Both these plants have similar growing needs, like 6 to 7 hours of sunlight a day and well-drained soil for healthy growth.
Worst Companion Plants for Penstemon
We saw some good companion plants of penstemon, but there are also some plants which, if planted near the penstemon, will hamper either its growth or stunt the growth of both plants.
It is important to know about these plants so that we do not end up pairing them and making our garden pale.
1. Water-loving Plants
Penstemon likes a soil that is well-drained and does not have a lot of moisture in it. Plants like Golden Creeping Jenny, which have a high water requirement, may not be a good neighbor of Penstemon as it will either die of drought or, if watered well, can cause root rot and other moisture-related issues for Penstemon.
2. Shade-Loving Plants
After water-loving plants, Penstemon does not like any shade-loving plants as it loves sunlight and needs full sun to partial shade to grow well.
Planting shade-loving companions alongside Penstemon can lead to competition for sunlight. Shade-loving plants like Hosta, Astilbe, Begonia, and Ferns should be avoided by planting near Penstemon as it will result in weaker growth for both the Penstemon and its shade-loving companions.
What are Penstemon’s Growing Requirements?
If you want a beautiful blooming garden, then a good companion won’t help you alone. You should also know the penstemon’s growing requirements to keep them healthy and enhance productivity.
Let us know about some basic growing requirements of Penstemon.
1. Light Requirements
Planting penstemon in an area of the garden where there is full sunlight for at least 76 to 8 hours a day. It will help the plant to keep its posture and not droop.
2. Soil Requirements
As mentioned above many times, penstemon needs soil to have good drainage. It is generally a hardy plant and likes to be on rocky or sandy, lean soil.
3. Water Requirements
Penstemon is a drought-loving plant and is known to tolerate hot, scorching heat. If you water the plant every week up to one inch deep, it will help the plant stay upright and produce good flowers in summertime.
4. Fertilizer Requirements
It is generally considered a good and healthy plant. Providing the plant with an organic fertilizer once every year keeps the plant safe and promotes growth and blooming time.
Grass Diseases and Pests
Penstemon plants are considered very resistant plants and are not bothered by a lot of pests or diseases. But still, every plant is prone to some pests and diseases, and penstemon is no exception.
Let’s see some pests and diseases that are a risk to Penstemon’s health.
The most irritating of the lot, Aphids, are always present on flowering plants like penstemon. They are small insects that feast on the sap of the plant and can hamper the growth of the plant.
The distorted leaves are a sign of their infestation, and insecticidal soap or neem oil can be applied to get rid of them.
2. Slugs and Snails
Slugs and snails can chew on the foliage of Penstemon, leaving irregular holes and damage. To manage these pests, consider using organic slug and snail baits, beer traps, or physical barriers like copper tape around the base of the plants.
Another damage to the plant is done by small caterpillars. These species may feed on Penstemon leaves, stunting the plant’s growth. Handpicking caterpillars or using organic caterpillar control methods can help protect your plants.
4. Powdery Mildew
A very common fungal disease with which most plants are affected is powdery mildew. It appears as a white, powdery substance on the leaves and can distort their growth.
To prevent powdery mildew, ensure good air circulation and avoid overhead watering.
5. Root Rot
Penstemon can be susceptible to root rot if the soil is consistently waterlogged or poorly drained. To prevent root rot, plant Penstemon in well-drained soil and avoid overwatering.
6. Botrytis Blight
Botrytis blight, or gray mold, can affect Penstemon during periods of high humidity or damp conditions. It causes grayish-brown spots on leaves and flowers. Ensure good air circulation, and remove and dispose of infected plant material.
Penstemon is one of the easiest and low-maintenance plants to grow in your garden. It is generally a hardy plant which comes in different varieties.
If you are considering planting one in your garden, plant it with good companion plants that love the sun and well-drained soil for their better growth, and avoid water-loving and shade-loving plants around them.
Also, follow the growing needs of penstemon closely to expand the life of the plant and boost growth. Take precautions from pests and diseases, as mentioned above in the article.