Diverse species of native perennials with over 250 found throughout North America. Drought tolerant species adapting to a wide range of soils and elevations. Important forage plant for birds and insects. Blooms from early spring to summer.
This species is a perennial with a woody base and several erect stems reaching to 24″” tall. Most of the leaves are near the base of the plant. There are some leaves higher on the stem which are smaller and clasping at their bases. The flowers are blue, sometimes with a pinkish tinge. The are attractive to bees.
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Select a site with full sun and well-drained soil. Choose a site where the plants will have plenty of room; penstemons don’t like to be crowded.
Plant in spring, spacing plants 1 to 3 feet apart, depending on the variety. Don’t crowd plants. Prepare the garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost. Dig a hole twice the diameter of the pot the plant is in. Carefully remove the plant from its container and place it in the hole so the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. Carefully fill in around the root ball and firm the soil gently. Water thoroughly.
Apply a thin layer of compost each spring, followed by a 2-inch layer of mulch to retain moisture and control weeds. Water plants during the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week. After the first killing frost, cut stems back to an inch or two above soil line.
Lady’s mantle – Lady’s mantle has foamy sprays of chartreuse flowers in late spring and is a fine companion for early penstemon in full sun.
Lamb’s-ears – A low carpet of fuzzy, silvery lamb’s-ears at the feet of brightly colored penstemon presents an interesting combination. Good drainage and full sun will please both.
Catmint – Smaller catmint is fine in combination with penstemon. The gray foliage and loose spikes of the lavender flowers complement each other.