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Gulf Penstemon

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Penstemon tenuis

Penstemon tenuis, also known as Brazos Penstemon, Brazos Beardtongue, Sharpsepal Beardtongue, Gulf Penstemon, and Gulf Beardtongue, is native to southeastern and East Texas. Gulf Coast Penstemon’s foliage is usually up to 12 in. wide and 12 in. tall, but in the spring, with flower spikes, it can be as tall as 30 inches. Its tapering leaves are usually 3-6 in. long and medium green; in North Texas, it is usually evergreen.

Light purple flowers appear in mid to late spring. Although the flowers are small, there are many, usually on multiple flower spikes, giving the appearance of a cloud of blooms that last for several weeks.

Sometimes it flowers again in the fall, although the blooms are more limited. Flowering is followed by attractive, rugged 0.5-in. seed capsules containing many tiny seeds that stay on the plant through the winter unless cut off.

It is usually grown for its showy, lavender-purple flowers. It serves as a nectar source for bees, insects, and butterflies during blooming and attracts hummingbirds. Gulf Coast Penstemon’s flowers are relatively long-lasting in bouquets, making it a good plant for a cutting garden. It self-seeds prolifically, and after several years, plants can form a thick mat that can serve as ground cover. To avoid having Gulf Coast Penstemon seed out prolifically, cut the flower stalks after blooming. Cutting may also promote a further round of blooming.


Height: .75’-2’
Spread: 1.5’-2’ 
Bloom:  March-June
Light: Full Sun, Part Shade
Water: Medium
Zone: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
Origin: Texas

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