Garden Oracle / Drought and Heat Tolerant Gardening / Tucson - Phoenix - Arizona - California

Growing Penstemon barbatus:
Beardlip Penstemon

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Form: Herb.
Lifespan: Perennial.
Growth rate: Moderate.
Mature Size: It has a rosette of leaves 6" high and 24" wide at its base. The flower stalk grows as high as 36".
Flowers: Red to red-orange, tubular, 1.5" long, with a double lower lip curved back, arrayed on spikes. The sterile stamen on its lower lip is hairy, although barely noticeable in some specimens.
Bloom: Mid-spring to mid-summer.
Fruit: Seed capsule.
Leaves: Linear to lance-shaped, green to blue.
Stems: No thorns.
Roots: Clumping-forming.
Wildlife: Attracts hummingbirds and large butterflies. Usually ignored by mammals when not watered.
Toxic / Danger: No.
Origin: Utah, Colorado, Arizona through Texas, and Mexico.

Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 4-9.
Heat tolerant: Yes.
Drought tolerant: Yes.
Sun: It needs full sun and high temperatures for the most blooms, but will tolerate part shade.
Water once established: Once or twice a month in light shade, or weekly in full sun.
Soil: Well drained, dry, low organic content, pH 6.1-7.8 (slightly acidic to slightly alkaline).
Mulch: Use decomposed granite or small gravel.
Prune: Removing spent blossom stalks at the start of seed formation will encourage new stalks and blooms.
Litter: Low.
Propagation: Seed planted in the fall; cuttings of new growth in spring; half-woody cuttings mid-summer; root division in the spring.
Uses: Ornamental, hummingbird garden, xeric garden.

This plant is a member of the Penstemon and Plantain family (Plantaginaceae). Other common names are Golden Beard Penstemon and Beard Tongue Penstemon. Plants that do not bloom probably have soil that is too rich and/or receive too much water and/or need full sun.

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Penstemon barbatus: Beardlip Penstemon - flowers

Penstemon barbatus: Beardlip Penstemon

Latest update: May, 2021
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