Cutting back or deadheading penstemon?

sweets98(6a~PA)July 10, 2006

I had a few different varities but only two came back this year and I'm not sure how I handle them! I have the Penstemon Violeta Oscuro (Violet Dusk) which bloomed beautifully for a few weeks and now appears to be done. I also have the Penstemon X Mexicali (Pikes Peak Purple) that just started to bloom in the last few weeks but I'm sure I'll have to tend to that soon. Do you dead head or cut back? And if I dead do I tell when it's the bud or the seed? I thought I had it figured out but I'm not sure and there are so many buds at times on the Violet one that I can't remember which was blooming the day before and which wasn't! LOL



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I have a little experience with penstemon in Colorado. With both my "Pike's Peak" and "Red Rocks" mexicalis, it seems that if I leave the stalks untouched, they continue to produce intermittent flowers right up until frost. When I've cut back, that was the end of the blooms, so I just leave them alone until after frost and then collect the seeds for cold stratifying and planting. My barbatus seems to follow the same pattern. However, I cut back my pinifolius this summer and now there are some new blooms. My grandiflorus which bloomed late spring to early summer had dead-looking stalks so I cut them off and that appears to be the end of flowering for this year. Same with my husker red. I don't know how you would do a dead-heading on any of these, though. I would love to hear from others on how they handle penstemon following the first flush of flowers, so I hope others will chime in!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 2:43PM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

I've been deadheading my Husker's Red all along. I didn't know it might continue if I didn't deadhead! That seems so different from the usual pattern with deadheading. I do always miss some and haven't noticed more bloom on those stalks.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 11:26PM
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Sorry, Linnea, perhaps I wasn't clear about the Husker's Red. I cut it back following the end of the flowering and it doesn't produce any more blooms. (It still has nice foliage, though, doesn't it?) I have read that sometimes there can be a second round of flowering, but I haven't had that happen with mine. Apparently, it only happens sometimes. I wonder if anyone on this site has seen it?

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 12:28AM
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Hi, I'm also looking for the answer to this. I seem to have read somewhere (probably a book written by European gardeners - don't slam me too hard, I just love their photographs) that penstemon will bloom heavily and then need a 3 week rest and then bloom again. This advice was to cut them down to enforce the 3 week rest - which I just did this week! But I was also worrying about cutting off future blooms. I confess, sometimes I cut down less than I could have in case those were buds waiting to pop out. Talk about sending your plant mixed messages.

This is my first year with penstemon - I have Cathedral Rose and it was so cheerful - I hope it blooms again! Hope someone will chime in with definitive advice, definitely a newbie here.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 11:08AM
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I deadheaded my husker red a couple of weeks ago-maybe I should cut it all the way down. So far, I am not all that impressed with this plant depite being perenial of the year!
It does not look like much right now

    Bookmark   July 12, 2006 at 7:13PM
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just a quick's been about two weeks since I cut back my penstemon and there are tiny little flower buds forming at the tops of the stalks. Hooray! I was worried. I had cut down to the first set of leaves below the last blooms. The plant itself looks tidy. I've yet to see if it will bloom much this second time around.

Just by comparison, another plant which I did not cut down (having read this thread in between trips to the garden) still has some of the last big blooms on it but has sprawled a bit.

leslie - i took another look and i think you can deadhead where you see the stamens still on the plant (after the flower has dropped off). where the bud is still on the plant, the bud is all closed up and no stamens are visible.

I've been deadheading like that but it seems like a lot of work. If this cutting down after the first set of blooms works, I might just wait next year and cut down instead. Don't know if that will work with Husker Red, but I'd guess that they'd behave similarly.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2006 at 12:56PM
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Nancy zone 6

I have Mexicali Red Rocks, I've tried deadheading & leaving it alone. It reblooms for me regardless, maybe just a bit more when I cut the bloom stems back after bloom. Huskers red has never rebloomed for me in the 4 years I've had it, nor has the white foxglove penstemon. I got Violet Dusk last fall, it bloomed this spring, I cut it back & I'm seeing some rebloom now.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2006 at 2:51PM
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lisasmall(7a NoVa)

Corylopsis, thanks for doing the follow-up. I'm going to deadhead my 'Husker Red' penstemons right now and see what happens.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2007 at 12:24PM
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sweets98(6a~PA) post popped back up to the top from last summer? Too bad all my penstemon have seemed to have died! I have tried about 4 different varieties with little luck so I don't think I will buy more :(

    Bookmark   June 11, 2007 at 8:50AM
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I live in zone 4 and tried a few times to deadhead my Husker Reds, but they never rebloomed. So I just let the seed on the plant and they spread like crazy each year by letting them alone, so that's what I do. The hummingbirds love this plant so I allow it to spread where ever it wants.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2011 at 2:58PM
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