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PENSTEMON caespitosus

Image of Penstemon caespitosus

Family

Scrophulariaceae

Botanical Name

PENSTEMON caespitosus

Plant Common Name

Mat Beardtongue

General Description

This small tufted evergreen perennial is a truly charming western rock garden plant. Like creeping thyme, it is a spreading plant but prettier in bloom and more drought resistant. A native of the mountainous west, it resides among the sagebrush plant communities of northern Colorado, southwestern Wyoming and northeastern Utah.

Plants are mat-like and have dense tiny leaves, much like that of a thyme. In drier conditions the leaves take on a gray fuzzy look. The lovely rich blue tubular flowers have a pale white interior. These bloom over a long period from late spring through summer, depending on the elevation.

Provide this little western native with plenty of sun and soil with very good drainage. It is an exceptional choice for south facing rocky slopes and mounds but will do well in more level sandy soils planted with other moisture-sensitive western wildflowers. It is also amenable to traditional rock gardens or gravelly soils between stepping stones.

The spreading mats can reach considerable size because they root along the stems, so plants are particularly easy to propagate from cuttings.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 8

  • Sunset Zone

    1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7

  • Plant Type

    Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    2"-4" / 5.1cm - 10.2cm

  • Width

    1'-3' / 0.3m - 0.9m

  • Bloom Time

    Late Spring, Early Summer, Summer

  • Native To

    Western United States

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Mat-forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Blue Violet

  • Flower Color Modifier

    Bicolor

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Alpine, Edging, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall, Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Hummingbirds, Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    No