En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Saturday - May 22, 2010

From: Hebron, NE
Region: Midwest
Topic: Planting, Transplants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Penstemon digitalis not blooming in Hebron, NE.
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My Beardtongue plants are too close together. Can I transplant my Penstemon digitalis now, even though the plant is approx. 20" tall? It is not blooming.

ANSWER:

In our Native Plant Database, Penstemon digitalis (talus slope penstemon) is shown growing in one county north of Thayer County on this USDA Plant Profile, so we can be pretty  confident that it belongs where you are growing it, always a first consideration to us at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Your question was dated May 18, and you said your plants were not blooming. Again according to our database, this plant blooms from May to July. What is often not understood about bloom time ranges is that they go from south to north. This plant grows as far south as Texas and as far north as parts of Canada. If it blooms in May here in Texas, it may not be ready to bloom in Nebraska until June. Plants don't have calendars, they grow according to their genetic instructions and the environment in which they find themselves. It has been a hard, cold winter in most of the United States, and we imagine a lot of plants are either late-blooming or might not bloom at all. Furthermore, this is a semi-evergreen (in the South) perennial, with a taproot, which grows from 3 to 6 ft. tall. At 20" it probably simply isn't big enough to bloom yet.

What caused you to decide the plants were too close together? We suggest you read the comments in this Dave's Garden on Penstemon digitalis. They will give you some information on how this plant grows and how easy it is to care for. 

Now, finally for your question about transplanting your Penstemon right now.  Here are the Propagation Instructions on it from our Native Plant Database:

"Propagation Material: Seeds , Softwood Cuttings , Root Division
Description: Division is the easiest method of increase. Separate crowns in fall or early spring. Prune back the foliage of each new division. Propagate also by seed.
Seed Collection: Seeds ripen in fall.
Seed Treatment: Germination is best with cold-moist stratification and light.
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: For a neat appearance, cut bloom stalks once theyve turned brown. Somewhat short-lived, so keep a supply of seed on hand to renew your population."

It is already too late for "early spring" and way too early for "fall" and you will want to divide the crowns before you transplant them. We prescribe patience, and don't start putting fertilizer on them to make them bloom, especially not the high nitrogen fertilizer that you use on the lawn. That will make the leaves nice and green and inhibit blooming.

From our Native Plant Database:


Penstemon digitalis

Penstemon digitalis

Penstemon digitalis

Penstemon digitalis

 

 

 

More Planting Questions

Planting a meadow garden in Pennsylvania
November 16, 2014 - I live in Saxonburg PA near Pittsburgh PA. I want to put a meadow garden in my back yard. We are building a home so there is no established yard yet just trees and weeds. Where do I start . What...
view the full question and answer

Need advice for planting Bur Oak saplings in Comal County
October 09, 2012 - We will be planting several bur oak saplings this fall in deeper soils in Comal County. How close should we plant them? What mortality should we expect? Thanks in advance for your assistance.
view the full question and answer

Revegetating a hillside in western Washington state
October 10, 2012 - Removing several downed trees across my dock demolished the native plants growing on the hillside and the contractor pulled out their remains. The area faces east on an open freshwater bay. Close to...
view the full question and answer

Need Native Plants for Ditch Stabilization in Texarkana, Arkansas
September 14, 2010 - I live in Texarkana, Arkansas. I have a ditch near the street in my front yard that is approximately 90-100 ft. long. It gets full sun. There is a lot of clay and rocks in the ditch. I need to fin...
view the full question and answer

When to transplant volunteer Cedar Elms in Cedar Park, TX?
October 11, 2012 - We have a number of volunteer cedar elms we would like to transplant. When is the best time to do this? Should they be potted first and later transplanted or transplanted immediately? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center