Local Native; Mojave Desert
Known by the common name Desert Beardtongue or Desert Penstemon. It is native to the southwestern United States, where it grows in desert and plateau habitat types, such as sandy washes, scrub, and woodland. In California it is found primarily in the Mojave Desert. The plant is generally a shrub growing to a maximum height of 3 feet, with many erect stems. The thin leaves are roughly oval with wide pointed tips and serrated edges. The flower cluster bears reddish pink tubular flowers.
Like most Penstemons, this species is very showy when in flower and pairs excellently with yellow flowers like our native Desert Marigold. Though native to hot, arid locations it is adaptable to most of southern California and is tolerant of garden conditions. Give it plenty of sun and fast drainage. When in bloom it will be constantly in use by bees, butterflies and hummingbirds during the day and hawkmoths at dusk.
Growing Plants in the Desert — Important Information
The information presented here is, to the best of my knowledge, accurate and based on my research from reliable sources, observations I have made of plants growing in my, and other gardens I have visited, and observations of the plants in their native habitats. I would appreciate your feedback and experience to help me educate others!
Cacti: In my experience, cacti are much happier in the filtered shade here in the low desert of the Coachella Valley. Colors are more vibrant and they bloom more profusely, especially the non-native varieties. If you pay attention to how our native barrel and beavertail opuntia grow in the wild, it is frequently tucked in the rocks under creosote or another shrub.
Light Requirements: I have found that in our desert (Sonoran/Colorado) “full sun” plants can take and appreciate the late afternoon filtered sun, especially in the hot summer months.