Big Bend Beardtongue, Penstemon havardii, is a penstemon species for the Tucson and Green Valley areas, thriving in light filtered shade. A native to Texas and Mexico, its natural habitat is Big Bend National Park; thus the common name.
The bright red flowers appear in the spring, lasting into June. As with all penstemons, this is a hummingbird magnet. You can harvest the seeds by letting the flower heads dry. It’s easy to propagate more plants by sowing the seeds throughout your yard near irrigation emitters, but away from where birds will find them. Covering them lightly with soil will help keep birds from discovering them before they sprout.
All penstemons demand good drainage or they will rot out. Be careful not to overwater them, as that can be a problem as well. Wildflower seeds such as penstemon should be planted in the fall. In the desert, that means late October into the first part of November.
Reference: Mountain States Wholesale Nursery and Gregg Starr Nursery Plant Info Sheet, 1999.