For a perennial garden in the desert, nothing beats the penstemon. With so many species to choose from, you can have hummingbird flowers lasting from very early spring to mid-summer. Not all penstemons are created equal – some bloom in February, while others bloom in April. One species to include is the Hill Country Penstemon (Penstemon trifloras) hails from Texas, and is quite suitable for your Tucson area landscaping.
The Hill Country Penstemon has vivid pinkish-purple flowers that appear in the early spring. This penstemon species reaches about 2 feet taller, so plant it in front of background plants for the best showing. This plant can take sun or filtered shade, making it a good choice to tuck underneath our Velvet Mesquite or other native tree.
As with all penstemons, it must have good drainage or the roots will rot. Hummingbirds love this plant.
Planting perennials with other native plants is a great way to bring wildlife into your garden. Consider planting penstemons with Desert Hackberrry, Whitethorn Acacia or the Velvet Mesquite.
Reference: Mountain States Wholesale Nursery and Gregg Starr Nursery Plant Info Sheet, 1999.