Firecracker Penstemon Adds Pop to Mojave Gardens


Of all the plants that I have purchased to date, firecracker penstemon has given me the biggest bang for my buck.

I purchased my first Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatonii A. Gray) from UC Riverside Botanical Garden Sale in 2008.  Since then, the progeny of my first plants have been popping up all over the garden.  The two to three foot stems of red tubular flowers add vibrant color that attract hummingbirds and conversations with passersby almost year round.  The thick green foliage is attractive when plants are not in bloom. Older plants will tolerate a severe pruning.  Additionally cut penstemon stems are a fantastic addition to floral arrangements and are often the longest lasting flowers in a bouquet.

Conditions Where Seedlings Germinated in My Garden

So far, seeds for firecracker penstemon have germinated in unirrigated areas where puddles form during rain storms, in my vegetable garden and on berms that were irrigated intermittently for new plant establishment.  Seedlings are particularly successful in locations that have a thin layer of gravel and adjacent to rocks.  If moisture conditions are favorable, seedlings will come up where there is no mulch.  So far, I have not observed seedlings showing up where I put down heavy layers of pine needle or wood chip mulch.

I have had successful stand establishment in locations that have southern, western and eastern exposure.  Some plants became established under my quince tree.

I am told that Fire Cracker Penstemon is prone to fungal diseases, but I don’t water enough to have that particular problem.  

More Information

Plants Database Information on Penstemon

USDA Plant Guide for Penstemon eatonii

Dave’s Garden Post for Penstemon eatonii


About Caliche Chick

I retired from a career as an Environmental Scientist and Botanist. My first career was teaching science and English as a Second Language (ESL), and content classes for ESL students at the middle school level. I also taught introductory biology at the community college level. I have an avid interest in plants that grow with little to no irrigation. I also keep a vegetable garden, fruit trees, and back yard chickens. When I am not in my yard, I am taking Construction Technology Classes at Victor Valley College and working on my "fixer upper" home.
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