I took this photo of a Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatonii) in my garden back in early June. We here in the Denver area were enjoying spring like weather at the time, and so the vivid red blooms of this beauty were still captivating the pedestrians in my neighborhood who passed it by. Despite its namesake, these blooms do not make it to July 4th, as this plant usually begins flowering in early to mid Spring. Behind the penstemon, you can see a blue salvia providing a lovely blue-purple counter note to the penstemon’s brilliant warm red. This particular plant is looking a little leggy. The bed where it resides gets a bit more moisture than the plant should be receiving. It is my understanding that many (if not most) of the penstemons do better on the drier side. For useful information on how best to care for penstemons, please see the list of penstemon growing tips on the High Country Gardens website. One characteristic I appreciate about Firecracker Penstemon is the foliage can be evergreen throughout our Denver winters. And, if you have hummingbirds visiting your yard, they might be happily feeding on the tubular flowers this gorgeous plant produces.
I started this plant indoors, from seed. Many of the penstemons are very easy to acquire this way. This ease of starting from seed obviously translates to the the plants reseeding themselves in the garden. However, I find they are only mild re-seeders, and not nuisance re-seeders like lamb’s ear or blanket flower.
I highly recommend you add a splash of red to your landscape with Firecracker Penstemon. If red is not the color you are after, there are several other penstemon species and hybrids to choose from that offer diverse flower colors on plants that are perfect for low-water landscapes.
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