Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Foxglove, Fairy Thimbles, Dewflower, Wild Belladonna, Beardtongue, Showy Beardtongue
Penstemon cobaea

Family: Plantaginaceae
Genus: Penstemon (PEN-stem-on) (Info)
Species: cobaea (ko-BEE-uh) (Info)

3 vendors have this plant for sale.

11 members have or want this plant for trade.


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

15-18 in. (38-45 cm)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
Fuchsia (Red-Purple)
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

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

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From herbaceous stem cuttings
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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There are a total of 13 photos.
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3 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive htop On Apr 17, 2007, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Foxglove (Penstemon cobaea) is also known as fairy thimbles, dewflower, wild belladonna, beardtongue, showy beardtongue and balmony. It is found on dry open prairies and eroded pastures and hillsides, slopes, bluffs and edges of creeks on chalk loam, limestone loam, gypsum loam or sandy loam soils. It is an upright, hairy perennial that has a thick, tuberous root. This root assists with its surviving scorching dry summers. In the summer, it whithers down and appears to be dead. In late winter, a thick, compact clump of leaves and a tall stem laden with buds emerges. It produces very large, 2" long, tubular white to violet to deep purple flowers (largest blooms of any native penstemon).and is pollinated by large bees which need to crawl inside the corolla tube. That is why the filaments of the four stamens are curved and rigid in order to prevent the corolla tube from collapsing. The long style sticks out past the lip of the corolla. This penstemon attracts a variety of moths and nectar insects, hummingbirds and butterflies. It is a larval host for the dotted checkerspot butterfly. Collect seed in summer when capsules are brown and seeds are black. Germination is best with cold-moist stratification. It may be propagted from herbaceous stem cuttings also. Foxglove is suitable for rock gardens, native plant gardens, wildscapes and other cultivated areas. Root rot can occur in wet, poorly-drained soils.

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

This is the largest-flowering native Texas penstemon (also found in Arkansas and Nebraska) ranging from the rolling plains and blackland prairies to the Gulf of Mexico. Much of its life is spent in a rosette form but for about 2 weeks in April or May it sends up 1-1.5' bloom stalks of white to pale pink, lavender, or rosy purple and the open flowers might cover two-thirds of the stalk. It works well in the middle of garden beds where the shrunken rosettes can be shaded by other taller, more vigorous plants in the summer. They are short lived perennials (3 to 4 years) so many people simply spread the seeds in the summer when they cut the flowered stalks off. It grows very easy from seed (blooms second year for me). Tolerates sand, loam, clay, and limestone soils as long as they are well drained.

This plant is certainly able to grow in zones 7-9 and I grow them at 9" spacings with no problems.

Positive LindaTX8 On Aug 12, 2006, LindaTX8 from NE Medina Co., TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

This is a great perennial native wildflower that can move right into the garden also! It can tolerate drought and poor soils. Large pale lavender blooms appear every spring and attract hummingbirds.


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

Richmond, California
Saint Marys, Kansas
Elsberry, Missouri
Arlington, Texas
Crawford, Texas
Helotes, Texas
Houston, Texas
Lipan, Texas
Rio Vista, Texas
San Antonio, Texas

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