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Tuesday
Jun292010

Penstemon Dark Towers, an Unusual Perennial

I live in a Penstemon-deprived part of North America. The only variety that is stocked here is Husker Red. That plant is not suitable for my needs because its flower does not project sufficiently to warrant including it in a garden composition. Last season, one of my suppliers listed a new Penstemon in their catalogue. Named Dark Towers, the specs for the plant indicated a perennial that was more colorful, taller, and longer blooming than Husker Red. I ordered one for my test garden and was pleased with its performance. What I liked about it, especially, was its neat demeanor. It was tall and graceful and, even when the stalks slightly opened their formation in order to worship the sun, the plant maintained its dignity.

Two characteristics that make this plant interesting are the unusual combination of burgundy foliage with pink flowers and the variegation of the flower petals from light pink at the tips to dark pink at the base. The overall impression is understated eye-catching. When this plant is properly combined with other pink-blooming perennials, the effect can be striking.

Dark Tower grows to 3 feet in sun, in any well drained soil, and is hardy from Zone 3 to 8.This rich burgundy-leafed plant produces spikes that carry two-toned bell-shaped pink flowers that bloom June, July and August and it is tolerant of heat, drought and humidity. It makes a great cut flower, attracts butterflies and is deer resistant. The foliage maintains its burgundy color all season and that color will add an interesting character to most garden compositions. This plant may appear mundane when on display at a nursery, and even during its first season of growth. However, by year two, it is transformed in to a majestic plant with a commanding presence.

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Reader Comments (5)

Those DO look nice. I'm not a fan of Husker Red. It sounds like it would be pretty ,but in the garden it actually doesn't seem to be make much of a statement. I'll have to keep an eye out for Dark Tower though.

June 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph Tychonievich

The only penstemon I have right now is Blue Lips and it is more of a groundcover than other penstemons. I would be very interested in this one because they are labeled xeric and would take that heat on the south side of my house.

Eileen

June 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEileen

these are great tips, i have started my own garden here in Texas, and i have had great results. Tea tree oil, and other tricks have really helped me keeping bad insects, and slugs away from my leaves. I am having a great time. Keep up the good work on your blog, i love reading your articles!

June 30, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjessica parker

Hi,
I am new to gardening and I really enjoy it! This plant looks lovely and I really want it for my garden. Do you know of any reliable online resource from where I can get it?
Or know of any local nursery in Massachusetts.
This is a great and informative blog !
Thanks in advance.
Kalyani

July 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKalyani Dandapani

What plants would you layer in front of these. They are absolutely gorgeous and am amazed at how they stand so erect n the garden without staking. I need taller layers behind hydrangea and chleomes. Would they work there or be better suited by butterfly bushes, daisies and tickweed

June 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBea

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