Winter Care for Beard Tongue Plants


Beard tongue, or penstemon, provide color to the garden without the need for a lot of maintenance. Often added to xeriscaping and other drought-tolerant landscape designs, beard tongue is a short-lived perennial that blooms in the summer months. Beard tongue grows between 2 and 4 feet tall, producing trumpet-shaped flowers in a variety of colors. As a short-lived perennial, beard tongue can survive in the garden for three or more years if it is properly cared for over the winter months.

Step 1

Clear away fallen leaves and other garden debris in the fall before the first frost. Beard tongue prefers no extra winter mulching and disease organisms may live in the mulch and infest the plant.

Step 2

Cut back the entire plant with pruning clippers after the first hard frost in fall kills the foliage. Cut back each stem to within 2 inches of the soil and dispose of or compost the clippings.

Step 3

Water beard tongue throughout winter when the ground isn't frozen and when there isn't any natural precipitation. Water enough to moisten the top 3 inches of soil every six weeks during dry thaw periods.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not plant beard tongue in areas that are prone to standing water, particularly after snow melt. Beard tongue is a drought-tolerant plant and too much soil moisture causes the roots to rot.

Things You'll Need

  • Shears


  • Oregon State Extension: Winter Care of Perennials
  • National Gardening Association: Penstemon
Keywords: winterizing beardtongue plants, penstemon winter care, growing beard tongue, beard tongue winter

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.