As one of our top pollinator plants, foxglove beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis) attracts bees, butterflies and even hummingbirds. Small hairs on the stamen (the male part of the flower) make it look like a bearded tongue.
Tubular white flowers flare open to reveal violet lines on the bottom petals. These lines guide long-tongued pollinators like bumble bees and leaf-cutter bees to the nectar within. Some shorter-tongued bees, like carpenter bees, bite a tiny hole at the back of the flower to reach the nectar.
The flowers begin to bloom in June and can last for up to one month. As the blossoms fade, oval seed capsules form. As fall approaches, the leaves turn a deep burgundy red, extending their beauty in the garden late into the season.
Foxglove beardtongue is a clump-forming perennial that grows 90-120 centimetres tall. It does well in all soil types and prefers full sun or part shade. It’s drought, compaction, and salt tolerant, making it ideal for urban yards.
Plant in groups of at least five to make the flowers easy for pollinators to find. Combine with wildflowers that bloom at different times, such as wild strawberry, prairie smoke, butterfly milkweed, dense blazing-star and white heath Aster. You can also combine with short grasses like little bluestem to give even more species of caterpillars a place to grow.
Discover more pollinator-friendly additions for your yard with our Pollinator Plant List.