Las Pilitas Nursery

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3232 Las Pilitas Rd
Santa Margarita, CA 93453

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California Penstemons that grow in DRY areas

Yearly rainfall from 10 inches to 40 inches

These Penstemons like 10 to 40 inches of rainfall without added water! They can tolerate a little water to get established. After that leave them alone! They actually like dry summers and generally arid conditions. They do not tolerate garden conditions well. Most do great with sages, buckwheats, and other dry loving plants. These Penstemons are not good for coastal areas or areas with high rainfall or humidity. If this is you go to:

The California Penstemons that like MOIST conditions or plant Penstemon Margarita BOP.
Penstemon caesius Purple mountain bugler and San Bernardino Beardtongue.

Purple mountain bugler grows in rocky mountain areas of Southern California. In red fir and yellow pine forest openings at 6700 to 11,200 feet.
Penstemon clevelandii Cleveland Penstemon.

Cleveland Penstemon is a 2-3' perennial with pink flowers and gray foliage. Showy. It grows in the inner coast ranges of Southern California. It is cold tolerant to about 25 deg.. Gray foliage, resembles a cross between centranthifolius and spectabilis with pink flowers.

Penstemon clevelandii Cleveland Penstemon.

Penstemon centranthifolius, Scarlet Bugler

Scarlet Bugler has gray foliage and bright red flowers. Hummingbirds love this plant. It likes clean bare soil with low fertility. It grows in the coast ranges from beach sand to decomposed granite, clay loam and gravelly sand. It can tolerate hot summer temperatures regularly to 115 Deg F,, winter temperatures to -15 Deg F or summer fog. Scarlet Bugler likes full sun or part shade but will flower more in the sun.
The Penstemon flower spike is 2 to 3ft tall, while the foliage is a little clump at the base..

A short video of Penstemon centranthifolius Scarlet Bugler

Penstemon eatonii, Firecracker Penstemon.

This Penstemon is similar to Scarlet burglar but more cold tolerant. The flower clusters are denser and the leaves are rounder and less gray. It is also a good hummingbird plant. It grows 2 to 3ft tall.
This Penstemon can grow at 8000ft. elevation but has also done ok in Los Angeles and along the desert edges.

Penstemon grinnellii,
Southern woodland Penstemon

Southern woodland Penstemon has large fat flowers. It likes dry well-drained high calcium soils. It cannot tolerate being watered regularly. Penstemon grinnellii grows about 2 ft tall with large white, pinkish tinged flowers. This one would be a great addition to a native garden in Arrowhead, Idyllwild, or Big Bear.
Penstemon grinnellii,  Southern woodland Penstemon, Grinnell's Penstemon and Grinnell's Beard tongue. - grid24_24
the flower of Penstemon grinnellii Southern woodland Penstemon, Grinnell's Penstemon and Grinnell's Beard tongue - grid24_6
The flower on Penstemon grinnellii is slightly fragrant.

A short video about Penstemon grinnellii Southern woodland Penstemon,

Penstemon heterophyllus , Foothill Penstemon

Foothill Penstemon is very similar to Penstemon Margarita Bop but it likes drier conditions, is taller and the flowers are more lavender. This Penstemon does the best in full sun, with shade it looks leggy. It is cold tolerant to about -10 Deg. F.(as long as the day warms up) Foothill Penstemon grows about 2 ft tall and is fairly dense (but doesn't own a large pickup, sorry, that could describe so many folks besides this plant).

Penstemon grinnellii scrophularioides,Grinnell's Northern Penstemon and Central woodland Penstemon.
This Penstemon grows in the chaparral in the California coast ranges from Monterey county north to the San Francisco Bay area and in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains.

A short video about Penstemon incertus

Penstemon incertus, Western Desert Penstemon

This tidy blue Penstemon was planted in our demonstration garden in full sun with no protection and is doing great on our 15 inches of rainfall. Western desert Penstemon is native to our deserts and grows right along side Joshua trees and up into the Pinyon pines. With its flowers this Penstemon is about 3 ft tall.

Penstemon X parishii, Parish's Penstemon is a common 'problem' with the Penstemon spectabilis or centranthifolius seed. This is the love child or the two.
Balloon flower, Palmer's Penstemon (Penstemon palmeri) has a wonderful fragrant flower that both the hummingbirds and bumblebees use. - grid24_6
Penstemon palmeri, Balloon Flower Balloon flower really is a beautiful flower. It looks kind of like foxglove. It is called balloon flower because the flowers are so large and round. When it is flowering, the plant is around 3 ft tall. It grows in a similar habitat as P. incertus. It is very drought tolerant.

Penstemon pseudospectabilis, Desert penstemon

This pink showy Penstemon is a large Penstemon. It is a big hit with the hummingbirds. The flower color is hard to describe. It is very deep pink. It really stands out. It produces a mass of flowers in late spring. Desert Penstemon is very drought tolerant. It hasn't been watered since it was planted.

Penstemon spectabilis, Showy Penstemon

Showy Penstemon can reach 4 ft tall!  It is very drought tolerant, thriving on our 15 inches of rainfall. It looks better in full sun, tending to get leggy when it is given shade.Showy Penstemon will tolerate clays, but commonly loves decomposed granite.