Plant of the Month for January 2014

Penstemon albertinus
Penstemon albertinus

Description and General Information:

Penstemon albertinus is native to Alberta, British Columbia, Idaho and Montana, growing on dry rocky fields and slopes of the Rocky Mountains within this region. It is a plant that has clustered stems arising from woody root crowns. The glossy, deep green leave sare evergreen and often turn purplish in winter. The stems are typically are 20 cm tall but may grow up to 40 cm. Bright blue flowers grow at the tips of the stems. Flowers are tubular, 15-20 mm long and produced in a candelabra-effect.

Cultivation:

While hardy through zone 3, plants do appreciate some snow-cover during the winter to help prevent desiccation of their evergreen leaves.  Full sun and well-drained soil is a must.  In the wild, they often grow on limestone rocks but in cultivation, they are tolerant of some soil acidity.  This penstemon is not as tolerant of drought as many of this genus.  It is one of the easier penstemon to grow in the northeast of North America.

Blooming Period:

In the wild, this species blooms in June and July.

Propagation:

Seed, division, cuttings

Seed:

Seeds need a stratification period of at least 8 weeks for maximum germination. Alternatively, you can sow seeds in fall and leave outside for the winter.

Division:

Large plants can be dug and divided in early spring or late summer.

Cuttings:

A piece of rhizome with a non-flowering rosette of leaves will generally root quite easily if taken in spring.

 

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