Penstemon parryi, also known Parry's penstemon, Parry's beardtongue or desert penstemon, is a native wildflower of the Sonoran areas of Arizona and Northern Mexico. It is a low shrub-like plant with basal leaves and long stems that feature tall sprays of trumpet-like flowers. It is also used as an ornamental plant, adding color to gardens and landscaping.
Parry's penstemon has thick, lance-shaped leaves that are blueish-green in color. The midribs of each leaf can have a purplish tinge. The flowers are prolific and bloom along the stems of the plant from early to late spring. They come in colors ranging from pink to red.
Parry's penstemon is an evergreen perennial. It is indigenous to southern Arizona preferring to grow in the higher elevations, above 1,500 feet. The plant is hardy well below freezing. The lifespan of the plant is from three to five years. It grows relatively slowly and flowers each year in spring.
The plant is usually a mass of basal stems that extend upwards around 1 to 3 feet. The plant can spread to up to 2 feet across. The leaves grow primarily at the base of the plant and along the stems. At the end of each stem is a long spike-like spray of funnel-shaped flowers. Each individual flower is approximately 3/4 inch in length with two lobed upper petals and three lower. The lower mouth of the flower has small, hairy projections.
The plant is very easy to grow. The plant prefers full sun, but will tolerate partial, light shade. The plant is able to handle a range of soil types that drain well. Regular watering during the summer months will improve the bloom for next year. Pruning is not required, except to remove old flower stalks, if desired. This can stimulate further blooming. Propagation is by seeds.
Parry's penstemon is usually used in gardens as an accent plant to provide color. It grows especially well in rock gardens. Parry's penstemon is also good for attracting hummingbirds. It is also commonly used in seed mixes for roadside wildflower plantings.