Skip to content

The penstemons are flowering.

They are a favorite.

Hummingbirds love them.

So do solitary bees. In fact, the stalks are abuzz with bees.

The digger bees and sweat bees land, and crawl right into the flower in no time.

This is the usual view of a bee visiting a flower. The nectaries are at the base, so the bees push their heads deep inside and suck up the nectar with their long tongues.

Then the bee is off to the next flower.

If you are interested in helping bees and hummingbirds, penstemons are great plants to grow.

As Heather recognized, our mystery seeds from last week were from plants commonly called penstemon or beard-tongue, which are a number of different species in the genus Penstemon.

I chose them for Valentine's Day for two reasons. First of all, did you notice one of the seeds was shaped like a tiny heart?

Secondly, the red and pink flowers are a beautiful way to celebrate.

As I mentioned last week, bees and hummingbirds love these flowers, too.

An easy way to identify them is look for the pairs of leaves along the stems.

The foliage often shows pink to reddish purple colors, as well as greens.

Penstemons readily reseed and seem to move about the yard from year to year if you let them. They are never overwhelming, though, just a few here and there.

Do any species of penstemon grow where you live?

7

Our penstemons have been flowering.

Nectar from these flowers are a favorite food of hummingbirds and all sorts of bees.

A few days ago I also noticed some eggs on the flower petals.

They are the eggs of the cabbage looper moth. We've seen them in the yard before.

What is that sliver-like thing that is walking over the eggs?

It is a thrips!

Different species of thrips feed on a wide variety of items, including flower pollen and insect eggs. I'm not sure whether this one was feeding or not.

In any case, the eggs had all disappeared the next day. They may have hatched or they may have been eaten.

Who knew so much drama could occur within a single flower?

Do penstemons grow where you live? Are they blooming yet?