Las Pilitas Nursery

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3232 Las Pilitas Rd
Santa Margarita, CA 93453

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This website is dedicated to Bert Wilson. His genius continues to inspire us.

California Penstemons that can grow in moist areas

Yearly rainfall from 20 to 150 inches

When we say moist, we are referring to rainfall only. This is without any water!!! They cannot tolerate the 500 inches of rainfall most people like to put on their earwig and slug infested perennial gardens. The only Penstemon that can tolerate garden water is maybe Margarita BOP or Penstemon heterodoxus. The rest will just rot off. So, only water them a little to get them established. If you live in dryer parts of California ( Bakersfield, San Diego, Death valley, etc.) and want to plant these, then you can augment your rainfall a little. A Little!!!! Details on how to water California native plants. These are not Petunias so don't insult them my treating them like ones.

Pretty Perennial Penstemons

Our Penstemon 'Margarita BOP' with a swallowtail butterfly - grid24_6
Penstemon Margarita BOP, this plant can tolerate a lot of water, it can also be very drought tolerant. It is neat and compact with lots of flowers.
Penstemon azureus, deep blue flowers - grid24_6
Penstemon azureus, Azure Penstemon grows only a few inches tall and makes a tidy little ground cover. It can tolerate a little garden water. The foliage is slightly blue-gray.
Penstemon heterodoxus at 7400 ft.  under lodgepole and ponderosa pine - grid24_12
Penstemon heterodoxus, Sierra Penstemon is an oddity. The flowers are clustered together at the top of each stem. It looks more like a mint, until you look close. It grows only about 2 inches tall, until it flowers, then it reaches about 6 inches tall.
Penstemon heterophyllus subsp. purdyi, Purdy's penstemon - grid24_6
Penstemon heterophyllus purdyii is similar to P. heterophyllus but a little less cold tolerant and needs a little more water.
Mountain Pride growing in granitic rock at 7500 ft. in Sequoia - grid24_12
Penstemon newberryi, Mountain Pride is a bright pink Penstemon that grows about a foot tall. It likes a snow blanket in the winter but can survive without one. The leaves are rather fleshy. It needs protection from the heat at lower elevations. So, put it in a little shade if your summer temps get over around 90 degrees F.
Pincushion Beardtongue, Penstemon procerus brachyanthus, is a wonderful rock garden plant. - grid24_6
Penstemon procerus, Small Penstemon is another one that looks more like a mint then a Penstemon. It has dainty little blue flowers all clustered at the top of the stem.
Penstemon rattanii, Eel River flower - grid24_6
Penstemon rattanii, Eel River Penstemon will grow along the coast! A lot of Penstemons have trouble with the high humidity along the coast.
An old Penstemon rydbergii, Meadow Penstemon. - grid24_12
Penstemon rydbergii, Meadow Penstemon can tolerate some moisture. With a little water it can tolerate the interior heat at lower elevations.

Bigger Bush Penstemons

Bush Penstemons were once placed in the same genus as the perennial Penstemon. Now they have decided they are significantly different enough to warrant their own Genus, Keckiella. All of these Keckiella species are shrub-like. They have long arching branches that terminate in large flower clusters. They are all fairly drought tolerant.
Keckiella breviflora, Yawning Penstemon, is also a larval food plant for the checkerspot butterfly, and the larva is here feeding on the leaves. - grid24_12
Keckiella breviflora, Yawning Penstemon,has gray foliage and almost white stems. The flowers are light purple with dark purple stripes. It is happiest in shade. It also has survived on 15 inches of rainfall in our demonstration garden. It does great under oaks.

A small video of Keckiella antirrhinoides Yellow Bush Snapdragon and Yellow Bush Penstemon.

Annas Hummingbird, Calypte anna, hanging on a wire for Keckiella cordifolia, Heart Leaf Penstemon. This Penstemon likes part shade. - grid24_6
Keckiella cordifolia, Climbing Penstemon has large heart shaped dark green leaves with large fuchsia like orangish red flowers. It is a hit with the hummingbirds. It grows on the nursery sight on north facing slopes. It doesn't really climb but sometimes it will twist a branch around a neighboring shrub for support.

A short video about Keckiella cordifolia Heart Leaved Penstemon and Climbing Penstemon.

Keckiella ternata septentrionalis, Whorl Leaf Penstemon - grid24_6
Keckiella ternata, Summer Bush Penstemon is very similar to Climbing Penstemon. It is a little more shrub like and not so spindly. The leaves are stiffer, narrower, and not so deep green. It seems to do the best in full sun.

A short video about Keckiella ternata septentrionalis Whorl Leaf Penstemon. OR Keckiella ternata septentrionalis Whorl Leaf Penstemon. the movie.

This Penstemon is very popular with some species of Checkerspot butterfly. (It is probably the Chalcedon Checkerspot as many have been seen around.) In early spring it is usually totally striped of foliage. But metamorphosis occurs early enough so that the plant has time to recover completely before its flowering time. This is also a good hummingbird plant.
Keckiella ternata septentrionalis is similar to summer Penstemon but it can tolerate colder temperatures. Good hummingbird plant.