Foxglove vs Beardtongue: What are the Differences?

If you’re a nature enthusiast and an avid gardener, the idea of growing Foxgloves (Digitalis) and Beardtongues (Penstemon) might be quite appealing. Both plants offer an abundance of charm, from their unique blossoms to their impressive adaptability. They not only beautify your space but also attract beneficial pollinators.

In this piece, we delve into the similarities and differences between these two exquisite flowering plants, shedding light on their ideal growing conditions, the vibrancy of their flowers, their susceptibility to diseases and pests, and more. Whether you’re a novice gardener looking to start a new project or an experienced horticulturist considering these plants, this guide offers an in-depth look at Foxgloves and Beardtongues.

Foxglove vs Beardtongue: What are the Differences?

Foxglove (Digitalis) and Beardtongue (Penstemon) are two distinct species of flowering plants, each with unique characteristics. Foxgloves are native to Europe and have bell-shaped flowers that hang down from tall spikes. These flowers range in color from purple and pink to white, with spots inside the flowers.

On the other hand, Beardtongue is native to North America and displays tubular flowers on tall stems, primarily in shades of purple, red, pink, and white. Unlike Foxgloves, Beardtongue flowers stand erect on the stem. Also, Beardtongues have a prominent ‘beard’ or hair in their throats, which is a feature not seen in Foxgloves.

When it comes to their foliage, Foxgloves have a rosette of large, downy, oval-shaped leaves, while Beardtongues have lance-shaped leaves that are smaller and darker. Both plants differ in their blooming times too – Foxgloves bloom in early summer while Beardtongues bloom from late spring to early fall.

Which Plant is Easier to Grow: Foxglove or Beardtongue?

Both Foxglove and Beardtongue are relatively easy to grow, although they require slightly different conditions. Foxglove prefers partial shade and moist, well-draining soil, making it a good choice for gardeners with shadier plots. It’s not very drought tolerant and needs regular watering.

Beardtongue, on the other hand, thrives in full sun and well-draining soil, and is more tolerant to drought than Foxglove. It’s a great plant for beginners due to its ease of care and ability to withstand harsher conditions.

That said, whether Foxglove or Beardtongue is easier to grow can depend on your local climate and the specific conditions of your garden. Understanding these conditions can help you choose the best plant for your needs.

Are Foxglove and Beardtongue Annuals or Perennials?

Foxglove is typically a biennial plant, meaning it completes its life cycle over two years, though some varieties are perennials. The first year is generally devoted to growth, with the plant producing flowers in its second year before dying. Some species reseed themselves, giving the impression of being perennial.

On the contrary, Beardtongue is a true perennial plant, which means it can live for more than two years. It flowers year after year without needing to be replanted, making it a low-maintenance choice for many gardeners. Its ability to endure for several years provides continuity in your garden landscape.

Do Foxglove and Beardtongue Attract Bees and Butterflies?

Both Foxglove and Beardtongue are excellent choices for attracting pollinators such as bees and butterflies. The bell-shaped flowers of Foxglove and the tubular blossoms of Beardtongue are perfect for these creatures.

Foxglove is particularly loved by bumblebees, which are large enough to access the nectar at the base of its long, tubular flowers. The plant’s speckled throat markings act as a guide, leading bees into the heart of the flower.

Similarly, Beardtongue is a favorite among hummingbirds and bees, offering abundant nectar. The bright colors and tubular shape of its flowers are highly attractive to these pollinators, aiding in their survival and contributing to biodiversity.

Which Plant Has More Vibrant Flowers: Foxglove or Beardtongue?

The vibrancy of a flower is subjective and can depend on the particular variety of plant. Foxgloves are known for their striking, bell-shaped flowers that can range in color from light pink to deep purple, with eye-catching spotted patterns inside the flowers. These plants can make a dramatic statement in the garden due to their tall flower spikes.

Beardtongue, while not as tall, also presents vibrant and prolific blooms. Its flowers come in a variety of colors, including pink, purple, red, and white. The bright colors and the unique shape of the flowers make Beardtongue a standout in any garden.

Can Foxglove and Beardtongue Tolerate Hot Temperatures?

In terms of temperature tolerance, Beardtongue has a slight advantage over Foxglove. Beardtongue can handle a wider range of climates and is known to withstand higher temperatures, making it an excellent choice for hotter climates. It is drought-tolerant and can survive in harsh conditions once established.

Foxglove, however, prefers cooler climates and may struggle in high heat. It prefers consistently moist soil and may wilt if the soil dries out too much in hot weather. However, if provided with adequate water and some shade during the hottest part of the day, it can manage well in warm climates.

What Are the Ideal Growing Conditions for Foxglove and Beardtongue?

Foxgloves thrive best in partial shade with well-drained, fertile soil. They can tolerate sunnier spots as long as the soil is consistently moist. Regular watering is crucial, especially during dry periods, but they are quite low maintenance once established.

Beardtongues prefer full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil. They are drought-tolerant once established and can do well in a variety of soil types, including rocky and sandy soils. They need less water than Foxgloves, making them a good choice for xeriscaping or low-water gardening.

How Tall Do Foxglove and Beardtongue Typically Grow?

The height of Foxglove and Beardtongue plants can vary depending on the species. Generally, Foxgloves can reach heights between 2 to 5 feet, depending on the variety. This makes them an excellent choice for the back of a border or a focal point in the garden.

Beardtongues are typically shorter, with most varieties growing between 1 to 3 feet tall. However, some varieties can reach up to 6 feet. They’re versatile in landscaping and can be used in borders, rock gardens, or as a ground cover.

Are Foxglove and Beardtongue Prone to Any Specific Diseases or Pests?

Like any plant, both Foxglove and Beardtongue can be susceptible to pests and diseases. Foxgloves can be affected by fungal diseases like powdery mildew and rust, especially in wet, humid conditions. They can also be susceptible to pests like aphids and slugs.

Beardtongues can be affected by pests like aphids, slugs, and snails, but are generally disease-resistant. However, they can be prone to root rot if over-watered or if the soil doesn’t drain properly.

Can Foxglove and Beardtongue be Grown in Containers?

Both Foxglove and Beardtongue can be successfully grown in containers. Foxgloves are a popular choice for container gardening due to their height and dramatic flowers. A deep pot is necessary to accommodate their long taproot. Regular watering is important as container plants dry out faster.

Beardtongues also grow well in containers, particularly smaller varieties. They have a clump-forming habit and make a striking display when several are planted together. As with Foxgloves, a well-drained pot ting mix and regular watering will help Beardtongues thrive in containers.

When it comes to choosing between Foxgloves and Beardtongues for your garden or container, consider your local climate, soil type, and personal preferences for flower color and form. Both plants have their unique charms and can bring beauty and biodiversity to your outdoor space.