Penstemon heterophyllus 'Margarita BOP'

Common Name: foothill penstemon 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Plantaginaceae
Zone: 6 to 10
Height: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to July
Bloom Description: Purple to blue
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Hummingbirds, Butterflies
Tolerate: Deer, 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 after flowering to improve appearance of the planting. This plant may not be reliably winter hardy in the St. Louis area where it should be planted in a protected location.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Penstemon heterophyllus, commonly called foothill penstemon, is native to hillsides, grasslands, chaparral and open forest areas in the foothills of California mountain ranges at elevations below 5500’. It is a clump-forming perennial that features loose terminal racemes of gentain blue, tubular flowers (to 1.5” long) atop erect spreading stems to 18” tall. Flowers bloom in late spring to summer. Narrow, lance-shaped to linear, medium green stem leaves (to 2-4” long). The blooms are attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies, and other insect pollinators.

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 diversely leaved.

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

'Margarita BOP' is a robust cultivar of foothill penstemon that features purple-blue flowers and tends to be longer lived in the landscape compared to the species. This selection was introduced by Bert Wilson of Las Pilitas Nursery. It is named for Santa Margarita, California, the town where Las Pilitas Nursery is located, and the "bottom of the porch", where the chance seedling was discovered.


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


Sunny areas of borders, rock gardens or native plant gardens. Good on dry, rocky slopes or hillsides. Suitable for use in containers.