Our annual end-of-summer contest is here, come on down to the Dave's Garden County Fair!

Smooth Blue Beard Tongue

Penstemon nitidus

Family: Plantaginaceae
Genus: Penstemon (PEN-stem-on) (Info)
Species: nitidus (NI-ti-dus) (Info)


Alpines and Rock Gardens


Foliage Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


6-12 in. (15-30 cm)


12-15 in. (30-38 cm)


USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)

USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

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

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

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)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:

Medium Blue

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Late Spring/Early Summer




Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

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 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


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

Laramie, Wyoming

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jun 13, 2008, altagardener from Calgary, AB (Zone 3b) wrote:

From E. H. Moss (1959), rev. J. G. Packer (1983), Flora of Alberta: "Stems stout, 2-3 dm high, often in clumps, glabrous; leaves ovate, lanceolate or oblanceolate, 2-5 cm long, thick, entire, glabrous and glaucous; panicle narrow, with large, ovate or lanceolate, abruptly acuminate bracts; corolla 15-18 mm long, usually blue, rarely pinkish or purplish; sterile stamen bearded on the expanded apex and well back from the apex; flowering in May". Range: "Prairies. seBC to sMan to Wash, Wyo, neColo, ND."

Note that the bloom time, in contrast to what Moss and Packer recorded, actually ranges from May into July, depending on elevation.


On Jan 22, 2005, Todd_Boland from St. John's, NL (Zone 5b) wrote:

This must be my favorite beard tongue but alas, a heart-breaker. This species is native to the foothills of the Rockies and adapted to sunny, dry conditions. The leaves are a lovely blue-grey, almost nice enough without the flowers. However, the flowers are the most intense sky-blue. Plants grow 8-12" making them ideal for the rockery. It self seeds in my brothers garden in Calgary, Alberta (they grow native there) but after 3 attemps in Newfoundland, it's a lost cause as our climate is just too wet. For westerners in dry climates, it is a highly recommended plant.