PENTSTEMON – Bearded tongue
(From Greek for five stamens, the fifth is sterile and bearded)
Persons who are familiar with the Gloxinia Pentstemon, Pentstemon gloxinioides, already know its beauty; to others who are not, we would say that the price of a packet of seed is entirely out of proportion to the pleasure of bringing these flowers into bloom. The plants grow 2 to 3 feet tall and bear brilliant flowers much like miniature Foxgloves. The colors range from white to deepest crimson, with the various tints of pink and lavender predominating. Usually the throats are white, and contrast nicely with the bright petals. One of the best named strains is Sensation; the plants bear flowers almost 2 inches across. These are hybrids between P. hariwegi and P. cobaea.
USE. These handsome flowers are excellent for the border or for cutting.
GENERAL. Pentstemons are perennials, but the plants of the group described here are not always hardy, and are therefore treated as annuals. Sow the seed in January if a greenhouse is available, otherwise sow in a sunny window or hotbed in March, and transplant to the open soil when danger of frost is passed. Let the plants stand fully a foot apart.
In favorable years, and in the milder sections of northern United States, they will live through the Winter, if protected by a straw mulch, or they may be lifted in the Fall and planted in coldframes for the Winter.
Florists propagate by cuttings taken from the plants in the Fall. The young plants then are wintered in a cool house. Such plants are often in bloom in early Summer.