Plant FinderPlant Finder Graphic
Zone
Zones 7-23
Full SunPartial Sun
Full, Partial
Regular WaterMinimal Water
Moderate, Minimal

Penstemon centranthifolius

Scarlet Bugler
Scrophulariaceae
Perennials

PENSTEMON

There are some 250 species of penstemon. Most are native to the West, ranging from Canada into Mexico; some grow on the highest mountains, some in the desert, and others in forest glades, in foothills, on plains. A few are widely available, but most are sold only by specialists. Some of the perennials described here have woody-based stems, while others are herbaceous. Most species have narrowish, pointed leaves; those in basal foliage clump are larger, those on flower stems are smaller. Narrowly bell-shaped, lipped flowers (usually 3/4–1 1/2 in. long) are most commonly seen in bright reds and blues, but they also come in shades from soft pink through salmon and peach to deep rose, lilac, dark purple, white, and, rarely, yellow. Blossoms of some species attract hummingbirds.

Need fast drainage. Species in particular benefit from rock garden conditions. Usually short lived (3 or 4 years). Hybrids and selections tend to be easier to grow than wild species alongside regular garden plants; wild kinds may die quickly if given too-rich soil and too much water. In dry years or with restricted water, however, plants of wild species may thrive.

Penstemon centranthifolius

Native to Coast Ranges of California. Grows to 2– 3 ft. tall and 1 1/2–2 ft. wide, with waxy gray leaves that vary from lance shaped to oval. Long spikes of narrow bright red flowers in spring or early summer.

You Might Also Like...

Leucophyllum frutescens

Grows to 6–8 ft. tall and wide, with gray foliage and light purple flowers. ‘Green Cloud&r...

Agave havardiana

From southeastern New Mexico, western Texas, and adjacent areas of Mexico. Usually forms a single, com...

Isolepis cernua

A 6–10-in. bundle of tiny green fiber optic cables would make an uncanny likeness of this sedge....

Find Your Sunset Climate Zone

Find Your Sunset Climate Zone

View Maps Learn More

Advertisement