Penstemon barbatus subsp. coccineus

Common Name: bearded penstemon 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Plantaginaceae
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to July
Bloom Description: Scarlet red
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Hummingbirds
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil


Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Avoid wet, poorly-drained soils. Remove spent flowering racemes to prolong bloom. Plants may be cut back to basal foliage after flowering to improve appearance of the planting.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Penstemon barbatus, commonly called southwestern penstemon, is native to rocky slopes and open woodlands from Utah and Colorado to Arizona, Texas and Mexico. It is a clump-forming perennial that typically grows 1.5-3’ tall. Loose terminal racemes of reddish-orange, two-lipped, tubular flowers (to 2” long) atop erect, rigid stems bloom from late spring well into summer. Clasping, narrow, lance-shaped to linear, willow-like, medium green stem leaves (2-6” long). Oblong to ovate basal foliage generally retains some green color over winter.

Subsp. coccineus features scarlet flowers.

Genus name comes from the Greek words penta meaning five and stemon meaning stamen in reference to each flower having five stamens (four are fertile and one is sterile).

Specific epithet means bearded or with long weak hairs.

Penstemons are sometimes commonly called beard tongues because the sterile stamen has a tuft of small hairs.


No serious insect or disease problems. Root rot can occur in wet, poorly-drained soils. Leaf spots and rusts may also occur.


Sunny areas of borders or rock gardens. Naturalize in cottage gardens, native plant gardens, grassy areas and open woodland areas.