Penstemon, Foxglove Beard Tongue, Pride of the Mountain, Smooth Penstemon, Talus Slope 'Husker's Red'

Penstemon digitalis

Family: Plantaginaceae
Genus: Penstemon (PEN-stem-on) (Info)
Species: digitalis (dig-ee-TAH-liss) (Info)
Cultivar: Husker's Red
View this plant in a garden



Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade


Grown for foliage



Provides Winter Interest


Foliage Color:



24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


15-18 in. (38-45 cm)


USDA Zone 2b: to -42.7 C (-45 F)

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)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone



Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

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

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From softwood cuttings

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:

Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Auburn, Alabama

Gadsden, Alabama

Anchorage, Alaska

Dewey, Arizona

Mesa, Arizona

Mountain Home, Arkansas

Clayton, California

Long Beach, California

Sacramento, California

Boulder, Colorado

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Denver, Colorado(2 reports)

Hotchkiss, Colorado

Loveland, Colorado

Centerbrook, Connecticut

Mansfield Center, Connecticut

Athens, Georgia

Atlanta, Georgia

Augusta, Georgia

Cherry Valley, Illinois

Grayslake, Illinois

Itasca, Illinois

Mackinaw, Illinois

Macomb, Illinois

Mahomet, Illinois

Mount Prospect, Illinois

Niles, Illinois

Washington, Illinois

Yorkville, Illinois

Greenville, Indiana

Logansport, Indiana

Petersburg, Indiana

Iowa City, Iowa

Mc Gregor, Iowa

Nichols, Iowa

Pacific Junction, Iowa

Sioux Center, Iowa

Baldwin City, Kansas

Olathe, Kansas

Wichita, Kansas

Ewing, Kentucky

Hebron, Kentucky

Taylorsville, Kentucky

Bossier City, Louisiana

North Yarmouth, Maine

Brookeville, Maryland

Edgewater, Maryland

Dracut, Massachusetts

Haydenville, Massachusetts

Reading, Massachusetts

Roslindale, Massachusetts

Springfield, Massachusetts

Belleville, Michigan

Mason, Michigan

Traverse City, Michigan

Hopkins, Minnesota

Kasota, Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota(3 reports)

New Ulm, Minnesota

Remer, Minnesota

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Batesville, Mississippi

Maben, Mississippi

Belton, Missouri

Lincoln, Nebraska

Carson City, Nevada

Hanover, New Hampshire

North Walpole, New Hampshire

Freehold, New Jersey

Mount Laurel, New Jersey

Pennsauken, New Jersey

Verona, New Jersey

Whitehouse Station, New Jersey

Farmington, New Mexico

Bronx, New York

Brooklyn, New York

Buffalo, New York

Croton On Hudson, New York

Greene, New York

Jefferson, New York

North Tonawanda, New York

Syracuse, New York

Cary, North Carolina

Clemmons, North Carolina

Elizabeth City, North Carolina(2 reports)

Garner, North Carolina

Fargo, North Dakota

Cincinnati, Ohio

Columbus, Ohio

Dresden, Ohio

Glouster, Ohio

Hamilton, Ohio

Toledo, Ohio

Warren, Ohio

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma



Blain, Pennsylvania

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Lansdowne, Pennsylvania

Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania

Millerstown, Pennsylvania

New Freedom, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Okatie, South Carolina

Summerville, South Carolina

Cordova, Tennessee

Knoxville, Tennessee

Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Sevierville, Tennessee

Austin, Texas

Beaumont, Texas

Belton, Texas

Desoto, Texas

Euless, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas

Garland, Texas

La Porte, Texas

League City, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

Salt Lake City, Utah(2 reports)

Santaquin, Utah

South Jordan, Utah

Arlington, Virginia

Blacksburg, Virginia

Hood, Virginia

Leesburg, Virginia

Lexington, Virginia

Newport News, Virginia

Scottsville, Virginia

Sterling, Virginia

Suffolk, Virginia

CHIMACUM, Washington

Clinton, Washington

Gold Bar, Washington

Kent, Washington

Olympia, Washington

Redmond, Washington

Seattle, Washington

Vancouver, Washington

Augusta, Wisconsin

Birchwood, Wisconsin

Ellsworth, Wisconsin

Holmen, Wisconsin

Lake Delton, Wisconsin

Menasha, Wisconsin

Milwaukee, Wisconsin(2 reports)

Porterfield, Wisconsin

Racine, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On May 26, 2016, LanfrancoLeo from Harrisburg, PA wrote:

Came in my garden from nowhere...As all the unusual volunteer seedlings in my garden I gave a chance to bloom and I was so glad I did it!! Very neat habit, nice white flower in late spring-early summer, growing at medium rate. The pollinator friendly character of its flower allowed me to definitively keep in my garden, the nice purple -black foliage at the beginning of the season was a a great plus!! I liked so much that I divided the clump this year in in partial shade one in full sun...Let`s see in which condition will bloom the best!!


On Jan 30, 2016, JBtheExplorer from Southeast, WI wrote:

My grandma had quite a bit of this plant. She offered some to me and I said no. Less than a week later, I was able to identify it and discovered it was a native plant to North America, which made me immediately change my mind. I took a nice clump and added it to several areas of my yard including my main native garden. The white flowers look great among the yellows, reds, and oranges of my garden. A huge bonus to this plant is that it never looks bad; keep the ornamental stems on right through the winter!


On Feb 28, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

Penstemon digitalis is one of the few penstemons that's long-lived in eastern N. America, where it's native. It needs only ordinary garden conditions and not rock-garden soil. It self-sows here more than I'd like, but it's a decent garden plant that makes a decent evergreen groundcover. The flowers are nice but the season of bloom lasts only about two weeks here in Boston MA Z6a. The seed capsules and stems are ornamental into the winter.

'Husker Red' (note the correct name) is a seed strain with burgundy-tinted stems and new foliage. I find it more attractive than the species. Both kinds have attractive evergreen basal foliage and good scarlet fall color.

In 1996, the Perennial Plant Association named this cultivar their Perennial Plant of the Year.
... read more


On Oct 18, 2011, JonthanJ from Logansport, IN wrote:

Planted out last year in the pit run gravel scree I put in on the north side of my driveway, these did very well. Cleaning them up in the middle of October, I found a half dozen congested shoots up as much as 6" on the stems pushing to grow roots, very much like similar growths I used to propagate my Becky Shasta Daisies.

The different clumps vary considerably in size. I suspect that they are displaying typical differences within a batch of seedlings.


On Aug 4, 2010, groggyfrog from Calgary,
Canada (Zone 3b) wrote:

Started this plant from seed last year and it has really taken off this year. I planted it mainly for the lovely foliage colour but the flowers are a bonus. It stands about 2' tall and is not floppy at all.


On May 31, 2010, Bookerc1 from Mackinaw, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

One of my new favorites. Looks stunning with a redbud tree, as the foliage is burgundy in the spring. Blooms in May here in Central IL. Also nice with Queen of Night tulips and Plum Pudding Heuchera.

It did get significantly taller than I expected. I need to move it to the back of the border, as it is now over 4 feet tall. I guess it likes my lasagna garden.


On May 12, 2010, jcpooh from Atlanta, GA wrote:

Last year I planted 5 of these in my sunny front yard (Atlanta). They did nothing, no blooms and barely any new leaves. I threatened to yank them out of the ground if they didn't perform well this year. They must have heard me because they have absolutley exploded! Starting in March I saw new leaf growth and by late April they were in full, glorious bloom. Very glad I kept them.


On Jun 22, 2009, shadydame from North Walpole, NH (Zone 5a) wrote:

This was one of the first perennials I ever planted, and has performed consistently for each of the 3 years it has been in my garden. I love how the green foliage turns red! An excellent, low-maintenance plant.


On May 23, 2009, kmchitchat from Euless, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

This plant is pretty year round, but of course at it's peak in the late spring/early summer when it flowers. It's VERY drought resistant and matures nicely.


On Jun 10, 2008, CaptMicha from Brookeville, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

Planted in part sun. Does very well. Evergreen in winter here in zone 7. It's unfazed by our heat wave (90+ Fahrenheit daytime), drought, wet feet or humidity. The only problem is that my plants are leaning and will have to be staked.

It's June here and they're already in flower since late May.


On Nov 17, 2007, kd2000 from toronto,
Canada wrote:

Beautiful plant, low maintenance, easy to transplant in spring, and very attractive to hummingbirds when in flower. Planted in mass it provides a nice early flower display and the foliage slowly darkens and reddens over the season to provide continual interest. I find the foliage of volunteers and those grown from seed are slower to redden and appear quite green initially, but darken up over time in my zone 4/5 garden.


On Nov 21, 2006, Marilynbeth from Hebron, KY wrote:

Beautiful plant and flowers! Love it!


On Aug 24, 2006, lego_brickster from Lawrenceville, PA (Zone 5b) wrote:

This is an extremely durable plant. These have survived two winters potted on my second story garage roof (unheated).
They do equally well in the garden. The more sun they have, the darker the leaves get.


On Jan 16, 2006, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

I love the contrasting colors of 'Husker's Red'. It goes nicely with so many combinations and self seeds just enough. Blooms May-June in my garden.


On Dec 10, 2005, bigcityal from Appleton, WI (Zone 5a) wrote:

Carefree plant with nice late season flowering - sort of a must have.


On Jul 4, 2005, russkiypenguin from Belton, MO wrote:

Planted three of them in Missouri clay soil with no improvements. Then I ignored them for a year. All three of them did wonderfully and bloomed this year.


On Jun 8, 2005, sterhill from Atlanta, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

Lovely plant - nice color even when not blooming. Last year, I cut the flower stalks back and said 'hummm - looks like these would root." I cut back each stalk so that I had a piece of stem about 3-4" long with two leaves on top and just stuck these around the garden to see what would happen. Out of about 20, I got 6 plants this year and 2 are blooming. I expect I would have more if I had used root hormone and nice little pots with good black dirt. I'll try the suggestion of using the 'non-blooming side shoots' this year. That has answered very well with the wallflowers.


On Sep 2, 2004, daisyavenue from Long Beach, CA (Zone 10b) wrote:

To propagate by cutting, use the non-blooming side shoots. Lower leaves should be removed and the stem placed in soil.

They can be overwintered in a cold frame using this method. Allow some ventilation on more mild days.


On May 9, 2004, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Gorgeous foliage. Nice contrast to the sedums I have nearby. Already starting to flower (May 04). It's interesting that I have three of these plants and all three are in different stages of growth. I can't seem to figure out what is causing it, either. Must be something in the soil I'm not aware of. They're all in full sun.


On May 9, 2004, KRISBILL from Dresden, OH wrote:



On Aug 31, 2002, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

Easy-to-grow plant, and cold hardy (at least this far north.) It's almost treasonous to grow this plant (named for the Nebraska Cornhuskers) within the geographic confines of the Southeastern Conference, but what can I say?