There are 270 different Penstemon species, and countless hybrids and cultivars. Most are native to North America, and a few are native to Mexico. A large number of Penstemon species are native to the northwest.
Penstemons come in many colors, red, pink, white, yellow, orange, blue, and purple. They come in many forms: tiny rock garden gems, herbaceous matted forms with tall flower spikes, and low shrubs from a few inches wide to 4 or 5 feet wide.
Many Penstemon species are hardy and adapted to harsh, dry conditions. Firecracker Penstemon, Penstemon eatonii, a desert dweller, attracts hummingbirds to the garden.
Some grow on rock cliffs.
This is our local Shrubby Penstemon, P. fruticosus, on a rock wall along highway 2 in Pend Orielle County, Washington.
This species and its cultivars are long lived in the garden. The shrubby Penstemon is evergreen, with a reddish-maroon cast in the winter, and loads of large flowers in the spring.
Some grow in shallow rocky soils.
This is the Rock Penstemon, P. rupicola, in a rocky, dry garden bed. They are native to the Cascades Mountains of Oregon and Washington. They do appreciate an occasional watering. They don�t mind shade for part of the day, but are also fine with full sun. The pink flowers and bluish, evergreen foliage are quite beautiful. Penstemon rupicola would be lovely in a small rock garden or trough.
A few species of Penstemon grow in moister sites.
The Cascades Penstemon, P. serrulatus, grows in the Cascades Mountains of Oregon and Washington. It makes a dramatic addition to the perennial flower border, and is one of the most widely adapted Penstemon species. It can grow in quite a bit of shade, and tolerates moister conditions.
Another Penstemon species that tolerates moister conditions is the Foxglove Penstemon, P. digitalis. This species blooms in early summer, and thrives & naturalizes in my Spokane garden far better than any other Midwestern Penstemon species I have trialed.
All perennials and most small shrubs are grown at our nursery, many from wild collected seeds.
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