Penstemon · Penstemon spp.
Brilliant blue flowers grow up through unlikely crevices among hot, dry rock. A spring trip to the Columbia Gorge delights with a treasure trove of native Penstemons; against their basalt backdrop they appear as jewels in a harsh landscape. These American wildflowers are a familiar sight for hikers in the Cascades, but they can also be found all over our state. Though most common in rocky alpine habitats, there are species adapted to many different conditions, including coastal forms that thrive in lowland areas of the Willamette Valley. Of 386 varieties found throughout America, 80 are native to the Pacific Northwest. They vary in size and habit from mat-forming rock huggers to woody shrubs of 3 feet or more; in color from reds to scarlet and blue to violet.
Gardeners enjoy the unique beauty of Penstemons along with their ease of care and attraction for butterflies and hummingbirds. Despite most species' alpine ancestry, they take well to lowland gardens when given excellent drainage and full sun. Use them in a rock garden, among butterfly gardens, or in a dry sunny spot in your garden. They require sharp drainage, full sun and low fertility. Plant them in the right spot, and leave them alone!
Here at Bosky Dell Natives, we propagate many Penstemon species. Click on a plant in the following list to read about its unique qualities, but call ahead to confirm availability.
Printer-friendly Penstemon Handout