Penstemon ambiguus

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penstemon
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-06-24

Spiegel wrote:

 I agree with you about many of the xeric plants. Perhaps they grow where they are because of lack of competition or any number of other factors.  Most xeric plants seem to appreciate the extra water unless the drainage is poor.  I do take exception when it comes to xeric astragalus and other of the glorious peas.  

That's in New York, though. In climates that fairly closely replicate those of western dryland plants (excluding the west coast), there is no known upper limit to the amount of moisture the plants will accept during the growing season. If there were, the plants would all have been extinct long ago.
Never mind that xeriscapers claim that that some western plants can get "too much water".
If all other factors are the same (ie intense sunlight, low humidity, etc), a xeric plant will just get bigger and bigger if it's watered.
What I wonder is why people, especially rock gardeners, accept the notion that a plant's habitat determines its cultivation. Obvious generalizations like sun/shade or winter cold aside, this is true for almost no plant anywhere. You can grow these plants better than I can.
I'll just go mope in my hundred-ice-plant rock garden now.

Bob

extreme western edge of Denver, Colorado; elevation 1705.6 meters, average annual precipitation 30cm; refuses to look at thermometer if it threatens to go below -17C

Weiser
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-04

Bob

Quote:

I'll just go mope in my hundred-ice-plant rock garden now.

You poor fellow!! ???

To be relegated to mope in such a dismal pace. :'(

We should all be so lucky!! ;)

From the High Desert Steppe
of the Great Basin and the Eastern
Escarpment of the Sierra Nevada Range
Located in Reno/Sparks,NV  zone 6-7
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John P Weiser

HughGmail
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-07-08

Nold wrote:

Penstemon ambiguus is indeed a xeric plant. The only thing that means is that it grows in dry locations in habitat. It definitely does not mean that it won't accept two to three times the amount of moisture it receives in the wild. (Otherwise, obviously, there would be massive plant deaths during exceptionally wet years, just as there are massive deaths during droughts for many species throughout the world.) In fact, if you give a xeric plant more water, it just grows bigger. 

I agree with Bob - The attached picture was taken June, 2008,  just off of Highway 276 in Utah, a few miles east of Halls Crossing.  As you can see, the habitat is very dry.  The P. ambiguus in my garden watered perhaps 3 to 4 times a year but our average rainfall is considerably more than in the Utah location. 

In September 2009, in the Samalayuca sand dunes in Chihuahua, Mexico I witnessed another P. ambiguus but of a considerably lighter flower color.  Interesgtingly enough, the sands of Samalayuca are near white whereas the sands of the Utah location are brick red.  Oh, had I collected seed in Mexico!

Hugh Mac Millan
Former NARGS Web Master, Moderator
Eriogonum enthusiast
Zone 5+- - Front Range, Colorado (Denver area)

penstemon
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-06-24

Oh, had you collected seed, indeed.
So ambiguus grows in sand in the wild. All that means to me is that the species has found sand to be a viable medium for germinating its seed. It has no reason to try growing elsewhere. Plants can be lazy too.
The related P. thurberi was a disappointment here. It bloomed, etc., but died of drought. Apparently it needs a monsoon, which I can't provide expect in the form of an overhead sprinkler.

Bob

extreme western edge of Denver, Colorado; elevation 1705.6 meters, average annual precipitation 30cm; refuses to look at thermometer if it threatens to go below -17C

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