Sun/shade: Full sun to part shade
Soil moisture: Dry to medium
Flowering period: May to July
Host plant for 10 caterpillar species
The fanciful white flowers of foxglove beardtongue, with their puffy, tubular shape and prominently scalloped edges, usher in the growing season with a burst of fun and energy. Fine violet lines along the flower’s interior, known as nectar guides, are like neon signs pointing the way for bees to access the flower’s nectar. The dimensions of the flower favor small and medium sized bees, but there is just enough room for some types of bumblebees to squeeze inside, and the bumblebees will not be deterred! Indeed, observing the efforts of bees – sometimes agile, sometimes clumsy – to access floral rewards is one of the great diversions of gardening with foxglove beardtongue and other native plants.
Although modest in stature (1-3’) foxglove beardtongue grows rapidly early in the year and flowers at a time (mid – late spring) when few other native plants are blooming, making this plant especially important to pollinators. The plant’s inclusion in the Xerces Society’s list of recommended plants for the Great Lakes Region is a testament to its pollinator value. A good competitor and also a very adaptable plant, foxglove beardtongue grows well in both full sun and partial shade and soil moisture ranging from moderately wet to moderately dry. In its native NE Ohio range, foxglove beardtongue can be found growing in meadows, woodland openings, along floodplains, and along forest edges.
Photos by Ashley Keesling.