Perennial USDA zones 4-9. This native penstemon is really really red! Its bright red tubular flowers on 2'-3' stalks explode with color in early summer before many other plants start blooming. The plants are tolerant of heat and drought and thrive in a sunny border or low-maintenance wildflower garden or xeric garden. Planting this flower is like waving a red flag to hummingbirds to lure them in for a feast! Although it is such a striking ornamental, Native Americans found many medicinal uses for this plant and used it in ceremonies. When it bloomed (in late spring), they knew that watermelon planting time was over.
When to plant outside: There are three options for planting: 1) Sow in spring, 3 to 4 weeks before average last frost when nights are still cold. 2) Sow in late summer, up to 2 months before the average first fall frost, so plants are established before winter. 3) Sow in late fall (for spring germination).
When to start inside: 6 to 8 weeks before average last spring frost. Cooler soil temperatures are preferred
(around 55 degrees F).
Special Sowing & Germination Instructions: Germination will improve if seed receives a cold treatment. When planted indoors, sow seed on the surface of moistened seed starting mix then places in a cool location with temperatures around 40 degrees F for 8-12 weeks, then bring into a warmer location to germinate. (This procedure, called stratification, occurs naturally when seed is sown outdoors in fall, and the seeds go through a natural cool, freeze/thaw, or moist winter period.)
WHAT IS A NATIVE?
Native North American plants are indigenous plants that evolved naturally in their ecosystem without introduction. They often tolerate greater swings in water availability, have deep root systems that prevent water runoff and soil erosion and require little or no fertilizer or pest control. They also provide food for butterflies, insects, birds, and other valuable pollinators.
BOTANIC GARDENS SERIES
Plant species are constantly being lost throughout the world as a result of habitat loss, climate change, pollution, insect and disease problems, and even over-collection. Botanical Interests is very pleased to be working with botanic gardens throughout the U.S. to protect species that are rare and endangered or may become so if not maintained. As gardeners we can feel good about adding these attractive, adaptable treasures to our gardens. By planting them, we become responsible stewards of the environment and give a gift back to nature.