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The Scarlet bugler penstemon is an upright species, growing 2-3 ft. high, with distinctive gray foliage and orange-red flowers. Widely distributed throughout dry coastal and inland foothill zones of California from the Bay Area into Mexico. It's common name refers to the scarlet colored bugle-shaped flowers that appear in spring and ascend above the plant 4-5 ft. tall.

The Scarlet bugler is well suited as a springtime flowering accent plant in California native and Mediterranean gardens on banks and mixed with other flowering perennials around rocks and pathways. It grow best on well drained soils, in full sun and with low amounts of supplemental water during summer.

Water Needs

The Scarlet bugler penstemon grows in Inland Empire gardens in full sun and with low amounts of summer water. The chart shown below provides a recommended baseline guide to the monthly irrigation schedule and volume of supplemental water needed to maintain healthy growth throughout the average year. It should be noted there are several months indicated by an asterisk (*) when winter rains can provide sufficient moisture and irrigation is not needed. The high and low range of moisture indicates this plant can grow with varying amounts of water; established plants need little summer irrigation.

Irrigation Schedule and Graph

Low Water Use Plants

Irrigation Schedule 1

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
Runs per Month 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 1x 1x 1x 1x 1x 1x 1x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x
Inches per Run 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1"
Inches per Month 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 0" to 2" 0" to 2"

Range of supplemental summer water: 7"
Range of supplemental winter water: 0"-10"

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
For more information on how to use this Irrigation Schedule and Graph, follow this link.

For information how to calculate your irrigation system’s schedule and precipitation rate, please follow this link.

Plant Properties

Plant Type: Perennial, Native
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Upright
Growth Rate: Moderate
Height: 2 ft. - 3 ft.
Width: 12 in. - 18 in.
Water Needs: Low 1
Foliage Color: Pale green
Flower Color: Red
Flower Season: Spring
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil
Exposure Adaptations: Heat, Drought, All day sun
Function: Wildlife value, Rock gardens, Hummingbird plant, Flowering accent plant, Container plant, Borders, Attracts butterflies, Small spaces


Remove dead flower stalks after flowering in late Spring or Summer (1). Consider leaving some stocks on established plants to develop seed for wildlife food and for "volunteers" to develop in the landscape (S)



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