How to Prune Meadow Beardtongue


The meadow beardtongue, or penstemon, is a wildflower that is native to northeastern California and other parts of the western United States. It is a variety of the penstemon known as Penstemon rydbergii var. oreocharis, and has attractive pale lavender blossoms similar to snapdragons. This perennial thrives at 4,200 to more than 10,000 feet in elevation, where the temperature can dip below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live where penstemons are native, you can introduce them to your yard and add to the biodiversity of your neighborhood. With just a little care and pruning, you will enjoy your meadow beardtongue for many years.

Pruning Meadow Beardtongue

Step 1

Watch for fresh growth on your plant in April or May. After you see shoots beginning to form, cut off all of last year's flower spikes down to the plant's main trunk. Seeds might remain in the flower spikes, so if you want to introduce more beardtongues to your garden, shake the spikes where you want them to grow.

Step 2

Prune any dead or damaged branches with your clippers, also in April or May. Cut them back to the plant's main stem, taking care not to cut into the stem or you could cause damage to the plant.

Step 3

Keep the plant bushy by cutting off one-third of the season's new growth in the fall. Leaving some foliage will help protect your meadow beardtongue from winter frosts and possibly snow.

Step 4

Help your beardtongue compete against neighboring plants by pulling out all unwanted weeds in its vicinity in the fall. If any weeds are growing very close to the base of your beardtongue, pull them from the soil gently so you don't disturb the root system of your meadow beardtongue.

Step 5

Apply a balanced fertilizer in the spring when your beardtongue begins its summer growth spurt. To increase the number of flowers you will enjoy later in the season, give it a shot of a low nitrogen fertilizer when you first see buds beginning to form.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden clippers


  • Calflora: Penstemon rydbergii Nelson var. oreocharis
  • Penstemon
  • USDA: Meadow Beardtongue

Who Can Help

  • European gardening
Keywords: pruning meadow beardtongue, Penstemon rydbergii, meadow beardtongue

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens" and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to "Big Island Weekly," "Ke Ola" magazine and various websites. She earned her Bachelor of Arts at University of California, Santa Barbara and her Master of Arts from San Jose State University.