Penstemon acuminatus (Sharpleaf Penstemon)

Scientific Name

Penstemon acuminatus Douglas ex Lindl.

Common Names

Sharpleaf Penstemon, Sand-dune Penstemon


Penstemon amplexicaulis

Scientific Classification

Family: Plantaginaceae
Tribe: Cheloneae
Genus: Penstemon


Color: Blue, purple, or pink
Bloom Time: Late spring


Penstemon acuminatus is a perennial herb with one or more erect stems that grow up to 2 feet (60 cm) tall. The basal leaves are up to 6 inches (15 cm) long. They may clasp the stem at their bases. The fleshy leaves and the stem may be waxy in texture. Flowers are tubular, blue, purple, or pink, and up to 0.8 inches (2 cm) long. They have wide throats and flaring corollas. The staminode has a beard of yellow hair.

Penstemon acuminatus (Sharpleaf Penstemon)
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USDA hardiness zones 4a to 9b: from −30 °F (−34.4 °C) to 30 °F (−1.1 °C).

How to Grow and Care

The best location for this plant is in a full sun area with well-draining soil. Penstemon care and maintenance are minimal if the site and moisture requirements are met. Poorly draining soils and freezing temperatures while the plant is still active are the biggest causes of plant mortality.

The perennial is remarkably tolerant of drought conditions and is a stalwart presence in even low nutrient soils. It has had to be adaptable to thrive in windy, exposed areas of mountain foothills.

You can grow Penstemon from seed. They begin as rosettes low to the ground before forming the characteristic flower stalk. Indoor sowing should begin in late winter. Seedlings are ready to transplant when they have a second set of true leaves. Space plants 1 to 3 feet apart and mix in a little compost at planting time to help conserve water and increase porosity.

Water the young plants at least once per week as they establish. You can reduce watering as the plant matures. Mulch around the plants to help protect the roots from winter's cold and prevents spring weeds. See more at: How to Grow and Care for Penstemon.


Penstemon acuminatus is native to the northwestern United States, where it occurs in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Nevada.


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