By Sandra Nelson
Spectacular displays of vivid color….
An almost perfect specimen, this native penstemon deserves a place of honor in the early summer garden. At home in hot, dry and sunny glades, this penstemon does not need to be pampered. It withstands drought conditions and will grow well in shallow, rocky soils. In fact, adding a touch of lime at planting is recommended.
Growing in clumps, penstemon plants typically stand 1 to 2 feet high and spread only 12 to 18 inches. Beginning in late May however, plants send up multitudes of sumptuous 16 to 24 inch stems covered in snapdragon-like blooms in shades of violet to deep purple. Prolific bloomers, one plant can send up as many as 15 to 20 bloom stalks.
A favorite of hummingbirds, bees and butterflies, penstemon cobea is a host plant for the Dotted Checkerspot butterfly. Deer and rabbits tend to avoid it because of the slightly hairy texture of the foliage. Few pests or diseases bother penstemon, but standing water will result in root rot.
Zones: 5 to 8
Companion Plants: Missouri primrose, coreopsis