Penstemon 'Alice Hindley'
- Position: full sun or partial shade
- Soil: fertile, well-drained soil
- Rate of growth: average
- Flowering period: July to September
- Flower colour: pale lilac-blue
- Hardiness: frost hardy (will need winter protection in cold areas)
A large leaved penstemon that bears big, bell-shaped flowers from midsummer to autumn. It is one of the oldest hybrids in cultivation today, having first been introduced in 1931. It was first discovered by the nursery John Forbes of Hawick, who from 1870 until 1968 was the biggest Penstemon growers in the world. The fact that it has stood the test of time will give an indication of its many good qualities, and this has been backed up by being awarded the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit. The soft lilac-blue shades are tinged mauve-pink outside and have a white throat, and they look great in a cool themed border.
- Garden care: Remove the faded blooms regularly to prolong flowering. Apply a dry mulch around the base of the plant to protect the roots from frost damage in autumn. Leave the old foliage to protect the new shoots from frost and then cut it back by a third in spring.
- Try taking cuttings in July and early August. Fill a small seed tray with coarse horticultural sand and water it well. Take the cuttings in the cool of the day, choosing non-flowering side shoots about two inches (5cm) in length. If there are flower buds, pick them off. Trim the cuttings below a node (where the leaf joint is) and remove or reduce any large leaves to lessen transpiration. Plunge them into the sand so that two-thirds of the cutting is submerged and place the tray in a cool, shady position for several weeks. Then pot up individually into compost, such as John Innes no 1. You can also leave your cuttings in situ until next spring, although they will need protection from frost.
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