Penstemon heterophyllus X 'Margarita BOP' is a nice tidy perennial that looks like candy tuft or a dwarf boxwood when not in flower, and a mass of bright sky blue to reddish purple flowers when in bloom. (The soil, sunlight and watering all can change the flower color.) Sometimes the color will vary year to year, sometimes plant to plant, usually tints of purple in a mass of clear deep water blue.
Penstemon 'Margarita BOP' was a seedling that came up in the Las Pilitas garden sometime in the early 1980's. It is a hybrid between Penstemon heterophyllus and Penstemon laetus. Every year it would flower and be gorgeous, clear sky blue, fading to purple, at the bottom of our front porch. We've never watered it nor maintained it. Every year we talked about how beautiful, neat, clean it was. The bicycles, skateboards and dogs had run over it tens of times but it still looked good at the Bottom Of the Porch. (This plant will 'key' to P. heterophyllus but we believe it is a second generation hybrid with P. laetus. Seeds are fertile and will come back Penstemon heterophyllus.
Many of the Penstemons in the Transverse ranges have forms similar to this, good luck figuring out which species they are!) The original plants died in 1998(after 14-18 years, (we're not sure), when a tree fell on it. The arborist parked his rig on the plant, cut and put the wood on the plant, the wood was moved and a cement mixer was then parked on the plant and cement spilled on the plant fixing the retaining wall the tree broke. I figured out the plant was in trouble when I realized the dirt where the plant was supposed to be was 2 inches of cement. (You have to realize this was a very big tree.) So, I guess that finally killed it. I guess this Penstemon is not quite as tough as I thought, it cant live under two inches of cement for three months. Oh, well I still like Margarita Bottom Of Porch for sunny edges of semi-watered areas.
Mix Penstemon 'Margarita BOP' with Zauschneria californica 'Bert's Bluff', Erigeron 'Wayne Roderick' and Achillea millefolium lanulosa, Mountain Yarrow for a much longer bloom.
Trim the flowers off when they get tacky and these 'Margarita BOP' will flower almost all year.
Communities for Penstemon 'Margarita BOP':Chaparral, Coastal Sage Scrub, Yellow Pine Forest and Central Oak Woodland.