The Most Infuriating Plant in My Garden.

BeardtongueFP (1)

Introducing The Most Infuriating Plant in My Garden™: Penstemon barbaratus ‘Coccineus’ (Beard-tongue)! I don’t know if any of you grow this beast – and perhaps it is so well-behaved in your garden that you can’t figure out where I’m coming from – but it drives me bananas.

I love the vibrant colour of the coral-red flowers and I love the mounding foliage. If they were not parts of the same plant, they’d be even better. I can’t stand the way the reedy flower stalks flop and plop above the tiny, neat clump of leaves, how it just lolls all over the plants growing around it like it owns the place.

Did I mention how much I dislike staking plants?

I would have torn it out years ago, but for the fact that the bees go gonzo over P. barbaratus! It’s so hilarious and sweet to watch them attack the blossoms, wiggling right down into the tiny tubes until you can barely see their striped backs. I can’t bear to remove a plant that is so beloved of pollinators, no matter how junky it looks.  Staking certainly helps, that’s for sure!

Have you ever made a planting mistake that turned out to be a good idea?


  1. I am thinking it is worth keeping this frustrating plant because as you point out it brings out the bees. It might be fun to create a creative staking by having it lean against with support against some sort of garden accessory. I planted an obedient plant that isn’t very obedient as it is a crawler through my garden. I am keeping it because it is a nice tall filler and it is relatively easy to control. Oh we’ll. Thea

  2. Staking of plants is a boring job and I am often too late. Nowadays I only stake the Delphiniums. I like this Penstemon and had it for some years in the garden. When you ask me if I have made planting mistakes I must say yessss, but I should not know occasions where it turned out to be a good idea.

  3. The flowers are gorgeous. It does look like it requires attention. I ignore my garden too much for any demanding plants 🙂 Annie

  4. I too dislike “floppy” plants, but that colour of your penstemon is gorgeous. My autumn asters always get too tall and flop over and I never manage to stake them in time!

  5. Hi – I planted both hairy & foxglove beards tongue (the native plants for ON) and the bees & hummingbirds love them.. I planted 7 a circle with one in the centre.. They seem to hold each other up.

  6. My mistakes don’t usually turn out to be good ideas! Putting comfrey in the garden was a bad idea because it took over. The bees loved it but I had to painfully and slowly remove it all or lose my garden under a forest of comfrey.

  7. I don’t like the staking duties either. I have ornamental wire “stakes” they are about 1 1/2 feet wide and about 4 feet tall. I use that as my “stakes” . When the plants die back the ornamental “stakes” look nice in the beds. That way I don’t have to remember to stake them and then the circle of not liking to stake doesn’t come into the picture! 😉

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