A native of America, and now a frequent visitor to the Far East, Penstemon gradually begins to win love in the middle zone, up to the southern regions of Russia. Similar to the delphinium with its bells-flowers, which sit in a vertical group on a long stem, it is attractive not only in flowerbeds, but also in single rare plantings throughout the site, and, depending on the type, whether creeping or upright, they serve as either thick bush or dense carpets.
Penstemon: methods of growing from seed
The main quality of the penstemon perennial is its frost resistance, which makes it possible to grow this plant even in a harsh continental climate with harsh winters for several years. For the same reason, most gardeners prefer not to grow Penstemon through seedlings, but to sow it immediately in open ground. At the same time, the transplant question, painful for a flower, is solved. If you think that you often have to move the plant, sow it in peat pots: the ground will be saved around the root, and the transplant process will be easier.
In the summer cottage, the cultivation of Penstemon from seeds begins as early as November: while the earth is not frozen, it is carefully loosened, filled with a small amount of pebbles and sand, after which the prepared seeds are distributed over it. They are covered with the same soil, covered with leaves and slightly watered. If the snow began to fall, there is no need for watering. Penstemon, hibernating under the snow, will show its shoots in the spring, however, its flowering will begin no earlier than mid-June, when all the “first signs” will fade, giving way to the main part of summer flowers.
It is worth mentioning the cases of growing penstemon perennial, not only in rabatkah and flower beds, but also in pots. It is not recommended to do this in an apartment, but open balconies located on the south side of the house and cottage terraces will appeal to the plant. Here, a rassadny method of growing Penstemon, sown in February, is already quite possible, but also without a subsequent picking. Each box lays a certain number of seeds (they have a high degree of germination), after which it is covered with glass and placed closer to the sun. When working with Penstemon seeds through seedlings, they are distributed over a moist substrate, but not buried, and overlapped with a light layer of river sand.
For growing in pots, crawling varieties of Penstemon are usually purchased, the stems of which will hang down, completely seated with large bells (up to 5 cm in diameter). Shoots can be expected in the middle of the 2nd week, and if you first preserve the seeds for 1-2 hours in "Epin", then the period will be reduced to 7 days. In addition, germination can also be affected by air temperature: its optimal value is 24–25 degrees, and the lower it is lowered, the longer the waiting time for seedlings will be, and the seedlings themselves will be sluggish. In the open ground flowers are transferred at the age of 2-3 leaves, which usually happens at the end of May.
Penstemon: planting and caring for different varieties (photo)
Most often, a penstemon requires well-lit zones for itself, and these can be elevations or slopes: the wind often does not cause damage to the plant. Some varieties are well perceived and penumbra, but in general, the whole family is light-requiring, therefore, the constant absence of sunlight will negatively affect the abundance of flowering and pomp of the bush.
Those types and varieties of Penstemon that were brought from North America, perfectly take root on dry areas, limestone, mountain slopes. Also, fertile soil is quite suitable for them, in which only occasionally it will be necessary to apply mineral fertilizers in liquid form: it is especially important that the penstemon at the moment of gaining strength (the first 1-2 months after sowing) and before flowering begins. The earth should be light, often loosened, for which not only sand but also charcoal is sometimes introduced into it. Acid-base balance is kept neutral or shifted towards acidity.
It is recommended to keep clean areas of 35-40 cm between the bushes of the penstemon of many years, since almost all varieties grow very strongly: in particular, this is important for the alpine, short Davidson (10-15 cm in height), bush. The remaining varieties and types can be planted a little closer - at a distance of 25-30 cm from each other. At the same time, it is not forbidden to place low-growing ground-cover flowers and ornamental-leaf plants between some species with tall stems. Although much more often this space is filled with leaves or dry branches in order to preserve the moisture of the soil near the penstemon: this is the main factor for its successful growth.
In addition, it is important to bear in mind that almost every variety and type of penstemon has its own requirements for care and placement. In particular, the bearded penstemon, which got its name because of the bulging lower "lip", more like a beard, is quite frost-resistant, well takes root even in the zones blown by cold winds and loyal to shading. It fits so well into the climate of the middle zone that it can even winter without shelter and into a snowless winter. In the eyes of flower growers, the bearded Penstemon has value because of its long flowering period (45-50 days), as well as because of very high (up to 1 m) stems, allowing to create from them a dense hedge.
In contrast to the bearded Penstemon, the alpine species of this plant, for all its resistance to light frost for the winter, requires shelter with leaves or branches. And some gardeners wind up the upper parts of the stems with a covering material or simply with warm cloth, paying special attention to the lower part of the stem. In comparison with the previous species, its bushes are not so high, but they grow widely, and their flowering period is rather late - from mid-July. The petals of Alpine penstemon have a dazzling white color, turning to lilac at the edges, and the flowers themselves are not arranged alone along the stem, but are grouped into umbrellas-inflorescences.
The average lifetime of a penstemon perennial is 4-5 years, however, most gardeners have enough of this period to decide whether to plant a flower again in the same area. His unpretentiousness and loyalty to the cold played a role, and today Penstemon is a welcome guest in almost every garden. It is enough to sow it under the snow in order to see the spring shoots coming from under the ground, and in the middle of summer - large flowers-bells.