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Products > Penstemon 'Firebird'
Penstemon 'Firebird' - Beard Tongue
Image of Penstemon 'Firebird'
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Perennial
Family: Scrophulariaceae (Figworts)
Origin: North America
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Red
Bloomtime: Spring/Fall
Synonyms: [Penstemon 'Schönholzeri']
Height: 2-3 feet
Width: 2-3 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Deer Tolerant: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: <15° F
Penstemon 'Firebird' (Beard Tongue) - This durable plant, also known as Penstemon 'Schönholzeri', is one of the first of the Border Penstemon that we grew, first listing it in 1983 and it it's one of the more vigorous and floriferous of the hybrids. It is an evergreen perennial or sub-shrub to 3 feet tall with reddish-brown stems heavily clothed with 4 inch long lance-shaped dark green leaves. The large trumpet-shaped rich red flowers are 1 ¼ inch long and as broad with a red throat that has some pale pink to white at the base and dark calyces. The flowers are held on dark-stemmed dense branched terminal inflorescences (cyme) that appear in a succession of flowering peaks from late spring until fall and often appear year-round in coastal gardens. The flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies into the garden. Plant in full sun along the coast and provide some light shade inland. Tolerates and even thrives in poor soils and alkaline conditions but requires relatively good drainage. Can survive very dry conditions in cooler coastal gardens but looks better with occasional irrigation and requires it in hotter locations. Pinch plants after the first bloom to promote a quick re-bloom and cut back hard in winter to encourage a new flush of dense growth in spring. While extremely showy, Border Penstemons are notably short lived and for plantings to look best, they should be replanted every 3-5 years. Hardy to below 15° F and even much lower if soil is not moist. The Bedding or Border Penstemons are now considered to have a complex parentage involving Penstemon cobaea, P. hartwegii, P. campanulata, P. gentianoides and P. isophyllus. We have seen several "forms" of this plant in the nursery trade. There is a very similar plant with a white throat and broader paler green foliage that has erroneously been sold in the California nursery trade under this name. This plan received the prestigious Royal Horticulture Award of Garden Merit in 1993.  Information displayed on this page about  Penstemon 'Firebird' is based on the research conducted about it in our library and from reliable online resources. We also note those observations we have made of this plant as it grows in the nursery's garden and in other gardens, as well how crops have performed in our nursery field. We will incorporate comments we receive from others, and welcome to hear from anyone who may have additional information, particularly if they share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.