The attraction of penstemons was concisely described by my favourite Penstemon book as ‘abundance, colour, and charm’. Being native to this continent, it is a shame that it is more popular in Europe than here. In fact, the varieties available in the nurseries here are pathetic. It appears Penstemon has a big family of wide ranging ornamental attributes. I would like to try out as many as possible in my garden. So far, I have not come across a Penstemon that I do not like yet. Many can be sown from seeds. Some did not survive long in my garden probably because of either borderline hardiness issue or improper growing conditions, but some survive more than 20 years and still going strong.
Penstemon ‘Dark Towers’
This is a relatively recent introduction to the market here. It is very popular for good reasons; strong bushy plant with nice dark foliage and showy flowers.
Penstemon ‘Ruby Candle’
This is a vigorous penstemon with beautiful showy deep red flowers.
Penstemon barbatus ‘Coccineus’
I sowed these from seeds years ago. They are very showy grown in a big patch. However, as the season progresses, they need to be staked. I tried to just let them peek over some rocks or in between tall plants since I hate the chore of staking plants.
Penstemon digitalis ‘Huskers Red’
This was very popular before ‘Dark Towers’ came along. I like it as it is because of its pure white flower, nice reddish foliage, and can be sown from seeds that come close to the parents. It is an important filler in my garden.
Penstemon eatonii v. eatonii
This has similar appearance to Penstemon barbatus ‘Coccineus’ but shorter and did not appear to need staking which is highly desirable. It may be short lived in my garden.
Penstemon fruticosus ‘Purple haze
This is a compact and evergreen Penstemon with very pretty flowers. It appears to suffer winter damage easily.
This is a Penstemon native to my area and yet it is not a weed. I love its lilac flowers. It self-sows just enough for me to spread around.
Penstemon humilis v. brevifolius
Penstemon Pinacolada Series Violet
The small compact plant with lilac bluish flowers that bloom in late summer makes this Penstemon a good perennial for edging a border or path.
Penstemon pinifolius ‘Magdalena Sunshine’
The pale delicate yellow flowers and neat compact foliage make this a highly desirable ground cover for the front of a border or edging.
Penstemon pinifolius compactus
This is similar to Penstemon pinifolius ‘Magdalena Sunshine’ except the flower is orange red. It is one of the most showy Penstemons I have. I brought it over from my previous house more than 20 years ago.
Penstemon procerus v. brachyanthus
This is a neat samll compact Penstemon with pale bluish purple flowers; ideal for a rockery garden.
This a a very vigorous and big Penstemon with light bluish purple flower that last a long time. I sowed this from seeds.
Penstemon virgatus ‘Blue Buckle’
Penstemon x mexicale ‘Sunburst Ruby’
This is a small but bushy Penstemon with nice pink flowers. It will self-sow a little, and build itself a nice little patch.