50 Natives: Utah: Penstemon eatonii – Firecracker Penstemon: Inspired By Dooce

Once again it is time to introduce you to another of my favorite bloggers by way of taking inspiration from them and their home states for my Native Plant series. This time my inspiration is from the state of Utah and is perhaps one of the most well known bloggers around – Heather Armstrong of Dooce. As a fellow mom…but one who is slightly beyond the baby stage, I look forward to Heather having a nearly 7 year old girl to see what she is going to say about that.

Once again, let me say, in the blogging world, it is not so often that you get a chance to meet people in the flesh and rather only know them through their online personalities and by stalking them on the various social media sites (twitter, facebook, etc.) So please understand I am doing this all in fun and my picks for people are meant to be the sincerest form of flattery and based entirely on their online personas.

Penstemon eatonii, the firecracker penstemon is a native of many arid western states and specifically desert Utah. Its clear red stands out as the forefront of any composition. Everyone’s eye goes their immediately and everything else is viewed in relation to it.

firecracker red penstemon eatonii utah native plant

image by Mountain Mike

I found this little quip about the penstemon “Prefers full sun and well-drained soils. Fully cold-hardy. Drought hardy (i.e., needs no supplemental water after establishment on the Wasatch Front) and intolerant of overwatering and excessive fertility. Too-lush growing conditions can cause the flowering stalks to fall over (lodge), and may shorten the life of the plant.”

Which makes me think one thing...‘intolerant of …excessive fertility…’ WHAT? I think I might be intolerant of excessive fertility…and I think Dooce too, but a plant? What does that even mean?…I must be misreading this, because I find it way more funny than I should.
penstemon eatonii red native penstemon firecracker
1. Firecracker, 2. Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, 3. Penstemon eatonii Firecracker Penstemon, 4. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Coyote Gulch, Eaton’s firecracker, 5. Firecracker Penstemon, 6. DSC_0073-1, 7. Firecracker Penstemon, 8. Firecracker Penstemon, 9. Firecracker penstemon (Penstemon eatonii)

The bright red tubular flower are a hummingbird and bee favorite. The common name for penstemon is ‘beardtongue’, named for the infertile stamen that protrudes from the flower and looks like, well, a hairy tongue. Interesting really.

I think the penstemon might be one of the most relevant native plants for the garden.  Like our inspiration,  it really is a completely reliable performer even in the worst conditions, and while incredibly popular, it still has the ability to surprise and excite making it a favorite to many.

And Just a little update about where we are ….here is the map of what is done and left undone….I am on the downhill side, but here are the states that are left to come.
50 natives map of the USA Aug 1 2009

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rochelle greayer

Hi, I'm Rochelle and for 18 years I have worked as a landscape designer, author/writer, and design teacher. I've designed residential and hospitality (for hotels, restaurants, and spas) gardens across the USA and in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. After many years of teaching garden design topics in person, I launched the PITH + VIGOR Boot Camp series in early 2018. Through my blog, social media, and online courses (Garden Design Bootcamp and Planting Design Boot Camp) I aim to help homeowners learn how to confidently design and create home gardens that reflect their own personal and unique style.
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1 Comment

  1. invisiblebees on July 30, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    Woot! for both the penstemon and Dooce.

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