Penstemon Species, Beardlip Penstemon, Beard Tongue, Firecracker Penstemon, Red Penstemon

Penstemon barbatus

Family: Plantaginaceae
Genus: Penstemon (PEN-stem-on) (Info)
Species: barbatus (bar-BAY-tus) (Info)



Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)


9-12 in. (22-30 cm)


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)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:



Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

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 herbaceous stem cuttings

From woody stem cuttings

From softwood cuttings

By simple layering

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us


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

Anchorage, Alaska

Tucson, Arizona

Yuma, Arizona

Alamo, California

Glen Avon, California

Merced, California

Pedley, California

Rubidoux, California

Sacramento, California

Sunnyslope, California

Waterford, California

Newnan, Georgia

Downers Grove, Illinois

Mount Prospect, Illinois

Greenville, Indiana

Westminster, Maryland

North Billerica, Massachusetts

Worcester, Massachusetts

Farmington, New Mexico

Gresham, Oregon

Bulverde, Texas

Garland, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

Spicewood, Texas

Virginia Beach, Virginia(2 reports)

Kalama, Washington

Puyallup, Washington

Spokane, Washington

Vancouver, Washington

Washougal, Washington

Ellsworth, Wisconsin

Necedah, Wisconsin

Tomah, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On May 19, 2014, gramajan from Gresham, OR wrote:

My Elfin Pink is 4 years old, and blooms faithfully every spring, but...I want it to spread, and it doesn't. It also needs staked, or the tall gorgeous spikes are all over the ground. Does anybody have any trade secrets to help with either or both of these issues?


On Jul 18, 2010, Rupeee from Riverside, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

Doing great in our 100 degree heat. Gets morning shade and 100 degree afternoon sun. Deadheaded and get twice as many blooms. Really pleased with this showy plant.


On Jun 14, 2010, davidsl88 from Worcester, MA wrote:

Kept mine in a pot outside for 2 seasons, over-wintered in the 3-season mudroom. Foliage grew, never bloomed. Got tired of moving the pot around so I stuck it in-ground, full-sun, last summer. Again, foliage grew, never bloomed. Covered it with 4" inches of mulch last fall (didn't feel like digging it up for the winter) and when it started peeking out this spring, I divided it and moved to another garden (mostly sun). It's blooming like crazy now - looking very healthy. New England winters are very tough on plants. I always mulched but still lost many, many 'hardy' perrenials. I think the extra mulch did the trick this time. I'm 'neutral' now, because it took 4 seasons to get this plant to bloom, but I'm looking forward to being 'positive' next season - when (if?) it comes back!


On Apr 25, 2008, AnnaTrap from Montague, NJ wrote:

I bought tons of penstemons from Lowes the past two summers. They're supposedly hardy perennials. They bloom like crazy in the summer but haven't made it through the NJ winters. Shame since this is one of my favorites.


On Apr 7, 2008, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

I have tried one or two different cultivars of this species - they all sulk the first year, then die during the winter - not worth my time.


On Jun 1, 2007, Marvie from Virginia Beach, VA wrote:

This plant was given to me as a pass along recently. I plopped some of it in the ground and some in a pot, they are all growing like crazy and blooming up a storm. Gorgeous and easy, considering I have next to no gardening experience.


On Jul 13, 2006, LarissaH from Garland, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

I had it planted in a part shade location (morning sun, afternoon dappled tree shade, a bit of late day sun), watered it every 5 days in the middle of a Texas summer, gave into the heat. All other plants are fine around it. Never bloomed or showed signs of growth.


On May 30, 2005, sterhill from Atlanta, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

Atlanta: I - like hugahosta - was ready to rip all mine out this year if they didn't bloom and - WOW! - they are all blooming now. I have great masses of them! I had bought one plant (summer 2002) and it grew, but no flowers. I cut it back in the winter and used the pieces to grow a whole lot more. They flourished and grew big and bold and last year I had ONE! flower. So I cut them back as they browned after the first bad frost. (We get a lot of 18-20 degree weather in the winter here and they were very frowsy looking). Last year I just let them sprawl throughout the winter, trying to see if cutting might be the problem.

Now I am still not sure if it was the cutting back or just the fact they are now 3 years old but they over 4' tall now, no staking.

I'll post... read more


On May 29, 2005, paste592 from Westminster, MD (Zone 6b) wrote:

Positive and then some! What a simply gloriously rewarding plant! Quite easy care, just no worries with this sweetheart of a perennial. Well-shaped, erect and well-mannered, it looks good in and out of bloom. It's tolerant of all but the worst soil, doesn't pout if neglected, isn't pushy with its neighbors -- if I had a place for them, I'd make a "Penstemons-Only" bed!


On Oct 23, 2004, SalmonMe from Springboro, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

I planted a penstemon in Virginia in the spring under the right soil/light conditions and it did not bloom all season. The foliage grew, but no flowers. Same thing next year -- then I ripped it out. Not sure what the problem was, but would atleast say the plant is not super "easy".


On Aug 31, 2002, Baa wrote:

Tall, semi-evergreen perennial from Central and North America.

Has linear to lance shaped, mid to blue green leaves. Bears tubular, reddish flowers with a yellow beard on the lower lip.

Flowers June - September

Loves a well-drained, fertile soil in sun or light shade. Won't do well on soils that lie too wet over winter