Penstemon heterophyllus ‘Electric Blue’ (Beardtongue) has iridescent lavender-blue trumpet-shaped flowers that grow in a spike. The purplish-blue stems contrast well with the bright shiny green foliage. At maturity it grows to be 15”-18” tall, and 10”-12” wide. With Penstemon, less really is more. It requires less water and less fertilization than many other perennials.
They thrive in full sun, in almost any soil as long as it is well-drained. Most Penstemons establish quickly, like space to spread out, and attract beneficial pollinators to your garden, particularly hummingbirds. They are humidity tolerant, good as cut flowers, and will bloom for 4 weeks or more. The only things they are picky about are mulch and planting depth, as they will rot if the crown is too low into the soil, or if mulched in bark. If you choose to mulch, use gravel and plant with the crown of the plant (the center where the roots and stems meet) at least an inch above soil level.
Part of a family of plants native to North and Central America, this lovely plant is drought, rabbit, and deer resistant. Penstemons are intimately tied to our natural landscape, as North Americans, and are a much celebrated western wildflower. In fact they are considered by some to be the royalty of Western wildflowers. They are found in almost all naturally occurring landscapes in the North American continent from the highest mountain in Canada to the driest desert of Mexico, adapting to forest, foothill, and plain, and have been developed for the garden landscape as well, allowing us to enjoy their vivid color and profuse bloom intimately.
For gardening purposes, you will hear them referred to as ‘border penstemon’ – for upright plants, ‘rock garden penstemon’- for prostrate plants, and ‘shrub penstemon’ – for the larger plants. Penstemon heterophyllus ‘Electric Blue’ is considered a border Penstemon. Penstemons are part of the Scrophulariacea (figwort) family shared with foxgloves and snapdragons, and containing 270 naturally occurring species and over 800 cultivars and hybrids. There is an American society (penstemons.org) dedicated ONLY to this genus. An interesting note: The reason for the common name beardtongue is the prominent staminode, an infertile stamen, usually a long straight filament protruding to the mouth of the corolla. Some species’ staminodes are elongated and hairy, hence…. Beard tongue.
Pick -up of purchased plants will be Saturday, November 7, from 9 am to noon at the CNPS pick-up location off of Broad St in San Luis Obispo. (Note: there is no actual address for this location. It is at the East end of Francis Street in San Luis Obispo, behind Rizzoli’s Auto Repair. Please park on Francis St. while picking up plants.) A sign will be posted on the street. GPS coordinates for Pick-up location: Lat: 35.266967 degrees, Long: -120.651302 degrees. Please only place your order if you are able to pick up your plants on November 7, from 9 am to noon. There are no options for other pickup times or dates, or shipping of these live plants.