UCCE Master Gardeners of Orange County
University of California
UCCE Master Gardeners of Orange County

Drought Tolerant

Perennial- Desert Penstemon

Penstemon baccharifolius photo by Desert Rivers Audubon
Common Name: Desert Penstemon

Botanical Name: Penstemon baccharifolius

Family: Scrophulariaceae

Description:  Shrubby perennial native to the Arizona Sonoran Desert, plains, hills, scrub, and grassland

Sun: Full or part sun

Water: Twice per month once established

Soil: Prefers well drained soil types, sand, loam, gravel mixtures, or limestone

Habit and form: Grows to 2 feet wide and 2 feet high. Contains dark-green leaves that are thick, toothed, and sometimes very hairy. Flower stalks lined with clustered spikes of tubular flowers

Flower type: Tubular

Penstemon baccharifolius flower
Flower color & bloom season: Small, cherry red flowers; blooms summer to early fall

Uses, if any, for plant and/or flowers: Attractive to hummingbirds and pollinators; deer will browse this plant

Pruning time & method: Can be cut back to maintain a dense, bushy shape.

Maintenance tips: Good drainage is critical to avoid root rot. Protection from direct west sun is helpful. Avoid overwatering.


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