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The Showy penstemon is one of the outstanding native perennials of Southern California where it commonly grows in sage scrub and chaparral plant communities. It is a tall species that produces numerous 3-5 ft. tall stems that become covered with rich purple-blue flowers in mid to late spring.

Showy penstemon is naturally suited to native landscape plantings in the Inland Empire in combination with the Coast live oak and the Desert willow. It grow best on well drained soils, in full sun and with low amounts of supplemental water during summer. It combines well with other scrub and desert perennials and around boulders, on banks and for seasonal accent value.

Water Needs

Showy penstemon easily 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 Showy penstemon 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, Clumping
Growth Rate: Fast
Height: 1.5 ft. (3 ft. while flowering) - 2 ft. (5 ft. while flowering)
Width: 2 ft. - 4 ft.
Water Needs: Low 1
Foliage Color: Medium green
Flower Color: Purple, Blue
Flower Season: Spring
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil
Exposure Adaptations: Heat, Drought, All day sun
Function: Wildlife value, Hummingbird plant, Flowering accent plant, California native, Borders, Attracts butterflies


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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