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Penstemon Husker Red

Husker Red is a selected cultivar of Penstemon digitalis, an adaptable and easy to grow garden perennial native to the eastern half of North America. Many gardeners don’t think about penstemon in the garden and perhaps they should.

Husker Red penstemon is native, drought tolerant, reliably perennial, and is attractive to bees and hummingbirds.

penstemon husker red
Husker Red penstemon is native, tough, and attractive to bees and hummingbirds.

It grows well in poor soil. Gardeners starting out in a new garden with soil that has yet to reach the tilth that years of composting will eventually bring can be immediately successful in gardening should they choose to plant Husker Red penstemon.

Husker Red penstemon is a clump-forming perennial hardy zones 2/3-8.

Plant it relatively close for good massing effect – 12″-18″ apart. The low-growing clumps will persist throughout much of the season, and in spring stalks 18″-36″ support tubular blush pink flowers. Flowers last two-three weeks…not an eternity but not excruciatingly short like some perennials (peonies).

Many of the penstemons are not long-lasting in the garden.

husker red penstemon
Husker red penstemon grown in semi-shade grows and blooms beautifully, but foliage will be darker.

Penstemon is tolerant of wide environmental variance (partial shade/sun, drought/wet, soil pH, etc.). The only thing penstemon is intolerant of is wet winter soils or persistently boggy conditions. It handles heat and humidity better than many other penstemon varieties, and indeed, many other garden perennials.

Husker Red is so-named due to the wine-red color of the foliage, and the more sun you provide the better the foliage color.

Plant type: Herbaceous perennial, forms clumps.
Height: 24″-36″
Native status: native
Bloom period: May-early June
Winter hardiness:  3-8
Of note: Native perennial that loves the sun. Attractive to bees. Excellent for xeric gardens. Great drought tolerance. A can’t miss plant so long as the soil is not poorly drained and wet during the winter months.

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