Perennials forum: Penstemon 'Husker's Red' INVASIVE

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Name: Clint Brown
Medina, TN (Zone 7b)
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clintbrown
May 6, 2018 1:23 PM CST

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This plant is taking over my yard like Dandelions. I had no idea it was so aggressive!
Name: Karen
New Mexico (Zone 7b)
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plantmanager
May 6, 2018 1:29 PM CST
Do you have photos? I love Penstemon and didn't know any of them were invasive.
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Name: Gary
Wyoming MN (Zone 4a)
hostasmore
May 6, 2018 2:06 PM CST
I wish it was more invasive. It has gotten to be a bigger clump but has not spread anywhere.
Name: Bob
Vernon N.J. (Zone 6a)
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NJBob
May 6, 2018 6:52 PM CST

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This will only be the 3rd year for mine, but have not seen any seedlings around.
Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
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crawgarden
May 6, 2018 7:41 PM CST
Mine has been there about 7-10 years, pretty much the same size as when it was planted, however mine gets a lot of shade and Z4b does not help much.
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Name: Clint Brown
Medina, TN (Zone 7b)
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clintbrown
May 8, 2018 1:21 AM CST

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I'll try to get photos. It is even coming up in my neighbors yard across the street! The seedlings are all over the place! These plants are beautiful, but they are seeding all over the place.
Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
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gemini_sage
May 9, 2018 7:18 AM CST
I find seedlings all over too. Not quite as bad as you're seeing but certainly all over the garden. I've been trying to be more diligent in dead heading them but always seem to miss some.
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Name: Betty
MN zone 4
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daylilydreams
May 10, 2018 8:38 AM CST
Mine is still very well behaved after years in my garden , interesting how plants grow differently around the country.
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Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
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gemini_sage
May 11, 2018 5:53 AM CST
Seems they're better behaved in northern zones.
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Northern NJ (Zone 6b)
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LorettaNJ
May 11, 2018 8:01 PM CST
I've seen it reseed heavily at a local garden. It was gorgeous! But that patch is gone now. It does reseed a little for me, not like that and it is short lived too. I guess in your case, Clint, you just need to deadhead.
Name: Val
Near Boston, MA (Zone 6a)
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vma4922
May 23, 2018 10:29 AM CST
I had super germination when I wintersowed, so I'm guessing if you dont want it to take over, you should probably cut the seed heads before they form/open.
Name: Clint Brown
Medina, TN (Zone 7b)
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clintbrown
May 23, 2018 12:00 PM CST

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I do love this plant. I don't want to give off the impression that I don't. I just noticed it seeded very badly this year. I even saw it coming up in neighbors' yards up the street. I will try to deadhead it, but I love the way the seed heads look too. LOL.
Northern NJ (Zone 6b)
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LorettaNJ
May 25, 2018 5:18 AM CST
It must have been a good year for self sowers because quite a few of my plants reseeded heavily
Name: Charlie
Aurora, Ontario (Zone 5b)
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SunnyBorders
May 31, 2018 12:39 PM CST
Interested to read Clint's report on the invasiveness of Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' in his location, plus the subsequent comments.

P. digitalis is one of the very few penstemons that has survived for more than a few years in our northern garden. I have always, however, deadheaded our 'Husker Red' and 'Dark Towers', for reasons including only to make the perennial beds look more neat.
[Last edited by SunnyBorders - May 31, 2018 12:52 PM (+)]
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Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
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kqcrna
Jun 1, 2018 8:22 AM CST
I bought 2 plants about three years ago. One is struggling to survive. The other has spread a lot and looks beautiful now. I deadheaded them in attempt to get them to rebloom but that was to no avail.

I have a penstemon smalli which I allow to go to seed, and leave the seedheads through the winter. When I'm lucky, I get a volunteer or two. They haven't been long-lived for me, only a few years each. I originally wintersowed it.


Karen
Name: Charlie
Aurora, Ontario (Zone 5b)
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SunnyBorders
Jun 2, 2018 10:35 AM CST
That's also one Penstemon species which I soon lost, Karen, in my case even a year or two after planting; all our Penstemon were purchased as plants in flower.

Several on-line sources do say that P. smallii only lasts 2 to 3 years (in gardens), especially in fertile soils (e.g. below).

By now, I must have planted over two dozen Penstemon species (including named cultivars) and hybrid Penstemon cultivars and have had only five survive more than 2 to 3 years. Happily, however, those five have been long-term survivors.

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Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
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gemini_sage
Jun 4, 2018 4:00 AM CST
Karen, even though it doesn't last long, I love P. smallii, such a sweet plant that fits in lots of little niches in the garden. It's always a pleasant surprise when I find a seedling! My start originally came from Bluestone at my last home, then I wintersowed some several years ago here and have had a couple show up here and there since. Come to think of it I haven't seen any this year. I actually kinda wish it seeded itself more aggressively like Husker's Red!

Charlie, my experience with various penstemons has been much like yours, only P. digitalis types have been reliably perennial. P. digitalis grows wild here (the green leaved, white flowered form). What are the others that have been reliable perennials for you?
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
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kqcrna
Jun 4, 2018 6:08 AM CST
I agree I love penstemon smallii, too!

As I mentioned, I have 2 Husker's Red which I bought at the same time. Now in their third year, neither one has ever had a hint of red foliage. It's blooming beautifully now, but I wonder if they're really Husker's Red, or another penstemon?

Karen
Name: Charlie
Aurora, Ontario (Zone 5b)
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SunnyBorders
Jun 4, 2018 7:22 AM CST
Neal, besides the two Penstemon digitalis cultivars 'Husker Red' and 'Dark Towers', our long-term penstemon survivors are Penstemon hirsutus 'Pygmaeus', P. pinifolius and P. strictus. I find the blue flower colour of P. strictus the most striking. The red flowers of low P. pinifolius are quite small.

Interesting to read that the species, wild type, does not have redness in the leaves.

Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Bulbs Cottage Gardener Roses Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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gemini_sage
Jun 5, 2018 2:38 PM CST
Thanks Charlie! I have tried all 3 of those (wintersowed seeds) and had success seeing blooms, but the plants were short lived here. The blue of P.strictus was gorgeous! Our summers are hot and humid, which most penstemons seem to dislike.

Karen, I have had seedlings from Husker's Red that had green leaves, I assume they reverted back to the species P. digitalis. Did you start yours from seed? My Husker's Red always have at least some red color, even those that grow in shade.
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi

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