Penstemon procerus

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Robert Pavlis

Penstemon are North American natives that should be grown more in our gardens. Penstemon procerus, the small-flowered Penstemon is a perfect choice for the rock garden or trough garden depending on the variety grown. Plants are under 1 ft (30 cm) tall, and some like the one pictured is less than 6″ (15 cm) tall in flower.

Penstemon procerus; photo by Robert Pavlis
Penstemon procerus; photo by Robert Pavlis

The pictured plant  was grown from seed labeled Penstemon procerus var procerus, which is one of the taller varieties (>6″, > 15 cm). The plant in the picture flowers at less than 6″ (15 cm) (too short for variety procerus) and has too many flower clusters to be one of the shorter varieties. For these reasons the plant is labeled just Penstemon procerus with no variety name.

The plant forms a low rosette of basal leaves forming a woody base. The inflorescence rises well above the leaves. Flowers are produced in 1 to 4 clusters along the flowering stem with the largest cluster being formed at the top. This forms quite a dramatic display of color for such a small plant which is perfect for the trough garden.

Penstemon procerus; photo by Robert Pavlis
Penstemon procerus; photo by Robert Pavlis

Penstemon procerus

(PEN-stem-on PRO-cer-us)

Life Cycle: perennial

Height: flower are 15 cm (6in), leaves are 5 cm (2in)

Bloom Time: late spring

Natural Range: east coast of North America at various higher elevations

Habitat: rocky slopes, subalpine and alpine

Synonyms: Penstemon confertus var. caeruleopurpureus = Penstemon procerus var. procerus

Cultivation of Penstemon procerus:

Light: full sun

Soil: good drainage

Water: keep on the dry side

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3 – 8

Propagation: seed, division in fall

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Robert Pavlis

I have been gardening my whole life and have a science background. Besides writing and speaking about gardening, I own and operate a 6 acre private garden called Aspen Grove Gardens which now has over 3,000 perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees. Yes--I am a plantaholic!

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