Habit: Rocky Mountain penstemon is a magnificent native perennial that spreads by stolons and grow 12 to 36 inches tall. From mid to late spring, spikes of bright blue and violet blossoms adorn its evergreen foliage. Flower clusters are borne in leaflike bracts that sit at sharp angles on the upper part of the stems. Each tubular flower is split open into two lobed lips. Narrow oblanceolate leaves are oppositely arranged along the stems, while larger leaves are tucked at the base of the plant.
Ecology: this species is native from western North America, and can be found in California in an isolated population in Mono County. Most native communities grow in the Southern Rockies, from Wyoming to Arizona and New Mexico in the south.
Growing conditions: sandy to rocky soils. It thrives in sunny open locations, but tolerates partial shade. Rocky Mountain penstemon prefers dry or well-drained soils and is a low maintenance plant, making it a great addition to xeric landscapes.
This is a versatile plant, very desirable as a landscape accent, yet also useful for erosion control and as feed for wildlife. A number of wild animals forage on Penstemon strictus, including deer and antelope. When plants are blooming, hummingbirds and native bees delight in its nectar.
*Photo courtesy of Seven Oaks Nursery