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‘Laura’ keeps her head up in dry garden

Garden Gems: “Laura” beard tongue, a water-wise penstemon, looks similar to a foxglove and blooms for five months.
Garden Gems: “Laura” beard tongue, a water-wise penstemon, looks similar to a foxglove and blooms for five months.

This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum’s “Garden Gems” series – 45 can’t-fail, easy-care, low-water plants well adapted to our region and that add sparkle to drought-tolerant landscapes.

Laura beard tongue

Penstemon “Pensham Laura”

Size: To 3 feet tall by 2 feet wide.

Bloom season: Large showy white flowers with dark pink picotee edging in spring and summer.

Exposure: Sun; part sun with afternoon shade best.

Pruning needs: Pinch early growth to induce branching and deadhead flowers to keep new bloom coming.

Water needs: Low to medium; once established, deep water every other week.

Snapshot: Native to the western states, penstemons represent a large family of drought-tolerant plants that adapt well to domestic landscapes. The Pensham series of cultivars can take it wet or dry, which makes them ideal for home gardens. In bloom about five months each year, this herbaceous perennial features shiny green leaves and large trumpet-shaped flowers. With pink-edged white blooms, “Laura” keeps her head up; this beard tongue stays upright and does not flop over like some other penstemons.

For more on “Garden Gems,” click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu.

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