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Sour Grapes penstemon

Community favorite: Sour Grapes penstemon or beardstongue

Published: Saturday, Sep. 1, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 8CALIFORNIA LIFE
Last Modified: Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012 - 8:52 pm

This is one in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Community Favorites, 75 can't-fail, easy-care plants well-adapted to our region and recommended by local gardeners.

Sour Grapes penstemon or beardstongue

Penstemon "Sour Grapes"

Size: Under 2 feet tall

Bloom season: Summer, early fall

Exposure: Full sun

Pruning needs: Little or none; prune after flowering to keep tidy and encourage more bloom

Water needs: Once established, water deeply once a week

Snapshot: A hybrid version of a native wildflower, this bright purple perennial is a standout in hot, sunny flowerbeds or rock gardens. It can take the Sacramento heat without fading and tolerates drought. This hummingbird and butterfly favorite makes a great cut flower, too. Penstemons prefer well-drained soil and don't like to be crowded. You can see specimens in the arboretum's teaching nursery on the UC Davis campus.

Why it's a Favorite: "I love the gorgeous grape-purple flowers of this penstemon," said arboretum nursery manager Lisa Fowler. "Blooms for weeks and weeks in early summer when many other plants are in a lull, adding color and presence when the garden really needs it!"

• Read more about the Arboretum's 75th anniversary at For more on the Community Favorites and Arboretum All-Stars, click on

See a photo gallery of the Community Favorites online at

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