Some pretty penstemons are too tender. Some tougher types aren’t so pretty. ‘Sweet Joanne’ and ‘Prairie Twilight’ from Blooms of Bressingham combine the best attributes of penstemons so growers don’t have to choose. Flowers are big, beautiful and plentiful, and the plants shrug off nasty winters. Attributes of the two varieties are:
- Hardiness to USDA Zone 5
- Long blooming with lots of flowers
- Sturdy, erect stems
- Vigorous, not aggressive growers
- Form dense clumps
- Pest and disease resistance
‘Sweet Joanne’s delicate light lavender-pink trumpets flower heavily and continuously May through June. Plants grow 18 to 22 inches tall and 14 to 22 inches wide. ‘Prairie Twilight,’ meanwhile, has darker pink flowers with white tips atop sturdy burgundy stems, making a great contrast with the dark green foliage. It flowers heavily in spring (late May to mid June). Plants grow to 22 inches tall and 26 inches wide.
Tried & Trusted
‘Prairie Twilight’ and ‘Sweet Joanne’ were bred with a tough prairie heritage at the University of Nebraska by Dale Lindgren, professor emeritus. Lindgren specialized in breeding plants adapted to the soil and climatic conditions of the Great Plains, with an emphasis on native plants. These are two of more than 25 ornamental plants for which he has been responsible, including penstemon ‘Husker Red,’ the 1996 Perennial Plant Association’s Perennial Plant of the Year.
The plants have also been trialed by Blooms at secure trial sites, leading perennial growers, universities and botanical gardens.
Transplant liners into 6-inch, 8-inch or gallon pots, one cell per pot, using porous media with good drainage. Plants should be kept moist–don’t allow them to wilt–and fertilize while actively growing with 100 to 150 ppm nitrogen.
Growers should plant unvernalized liners of ‘Sweet Joanne’ outdoors in April for finished flowering plants in 10 weeks. Vernalization is beneficial for ‘Prairie Twilight.’ Growers are advised to plant unvernalized liners of ‘Prairie Twilight’ in fall and bulk for a mass of flowers in spring.
For more information, visit BloomsOfBressinghamPlants.com.