Rydberg's penstemon (aka meadow beardtongue) is one of those wildflowers that takes center stage. The vegetation emerges in the spring as a bright green basal rosette followed by an upright stem generally standing up to two feet. By summer, countless striking blueish-purple, bearded flowers adorn all sides of the stem in dynamic whorls, like floral fireworks. It is a nutrient-rich source of food to hummingbirds, song birds, bumblebees, and butterflies and an excellent choice for pollinator gardens, moist meadowscapes and sunny raingardens.
- Plant type/canopy layer: deciduous, perennial, herbaceous plant
- Size at maturity: 1-2’ tall, 3’ wide
- Light requirements: full sun to partial shade
- Moisture requirements: moist soil
- Bloom time: May - August
- Growth rate/ease: moderate growth rate, easy to grow
- Wildlife support: flowers of all penstemon are highly attractive as a nectar source for hummingbirds, butterflies, bees and other insect pollinators; seeds are nutrient-packed food for birds; overall plant is host to caterpillars/larvae of about a dozen species of native butterflies and moths including native Checkerspot butterflies like the Chalcedon Checkerspot, the Mountain Beauty Moth, and the Purple-Lined Sallow moth
- Native habitat/range: locally common in moist meadows and streambanks with wet rocky soil at mid to high elevations (i.e. 1200-3400m) in Northern California, most of Oregon (except select counties in the NW) and a few counties in central Washington. Portland Plant List - no.
- Special features & uses: deer resistant, hummingbird favorite, landscape uses include pollinator gardens, raingardens, and wet rock gardens
Gardening with Rydberg’s Penstemon: Ryberg Penstemon is long-lived and one of the most showy wildflowers for Pacific Northwest habitat gardens. It prefers full sun, but can tolerate some shade, and can handle a variety of soils. It tends to grow in moist meadows and streambanks, so be sure to plant it in a perennially moist location. Consider planting several (generally clumps of three to five spaced a couple feet apart) in a meadowscape with native grasses and other companion perennials such as columbine, lilies, western buttercup, triteleia and violets.
Photo Credit 1: "Penstemon rydbergii Swayne" by peganum is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
Photo Credit 2: "rydberg's penstemon Penstemon rydbergii" by Paul and Jill is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Photo Credit 3: "Penstemon rydbergii" by Matt Lavin is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
Photo Credit 4: "Penstemon rydbergii" by Matt Lavin is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.