Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Big Bend Beardtongue, Harvard Penstemon
Penstemon havardii

Family: Plantaginaceae
Genus: Penstemon (PEN-stem-on) (Info)
Species: havardii (hav-AR-dee-eye) (Info)

One member has or wants this plant for trade.


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)
15-18 in. (38-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
Scarlet (Dark Red)

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Fall
Late Fall/Early Winter


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


1 positive
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive dmj1218 On Aug 26, 2006, dmj1218 from west Houston, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Harvard penstemon is the showiest of the native Texas scarlet penstemons and has been used by professional gardeners and landscape designers in Texas for many years. Keep it on the dry side (it can survive on only 10" of rainfall a year) or it easily can attain a height of 6 feet. It spends most of its life as a rosette of thick, pale leaves. After its done with its late spring bloom in Texas (April to June) you will probably want to cut back the stalks; although if you don't it will probably rebloom in October. Hummingbirds love this native penstemon. There are 3 other tall native Texas scarlet penstemons: P murrayanus, P. cardinalis, and P. barbatus. This is a seperate species from them with its own unique characteristics. This particular species is best reproduced from seed, transplants often fail.

Penstemon havardii is endemic to the limestone soils of the Trans-Pecos in Texas but will tolerate sand, loam, clay, and limestone soils as long as they are well drained. I grow this plant in Houston Texas in extremely raised, dry bed conditions. It is beautiful when in full bloom.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Houston, Texas

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