Penstemon, Red Riding Hood
Masses of bright red flowers on sturdy plants.
Zone This refers to the USDA hardiness zone assigned to each part of the country, based on the minimum winter temperature that a region typically experiences. Hardiness zone ranges are provided for all perennial plants and you should always choose plants that fall within your range.
Sun The amount of sunlight this product needs daily in order to perform well in the garden. Full sun means 6 hours of direct sun per day; partial sun means 2-4 hours of direct sun per day; shade means little or no direct sun.
Height The typical height of this product at maturity.
Spread The width of the plant at maturity.
Bloom Season The time of the year when this product normally blooms.
Resistant To Adverse garden conditions, such as heat or frost, deer or rabbits, that this product can tolerate well.
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Start Indoors Starting seeds indoors is called Indoor Sow or Indirect Sow and these dates are when to sow seeds indoors in the spring or summerTransplant When to transplant bulbs or roots in the garden for springStart Outdoors Starting seeds outdoors is called Outdoor Sow or Direct Sow and these dates are when to sow seeds outdoors in the spring or summerStart Indoors Fall Starting seeds indoors in the fall called Indoor Sow or Indirect Sow and these dates are when to sow seeds outdoors in the fallTransplant Fall Transplant Fall-When to transplant bulbs or roots in the garden for fallStart Outdoors Fall Starting seeds outdoors in the fall is called Outdoor Sow or Direct Sow and these dates are when to sow seeds outdoors in the fallJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
How to Sow and Plant Penstemon
Sowing Penstemon Directly in the Garden:
- Direct sow in spring to early summer in full sun in a fertile, well-drained soil. Excellent drainage is essential for penstemon.
- Remove weeds and work organic matter into the top 6-8 inches of soil; then level and smooth.
- Sow seeds evenly and thinly and barely cover with soil.
- Firm the soil lightly and keep it evenly moist.
- Seedlings will emerge in 10-21 days.
- Thin to stand 12 inches apart when seedlings are 1-2 inches tall.
Planting Penstemon in the Garden:
- Select a location in full sun with a fertile, well-drained soil. Excellent drainage is essential for penstemon.
- Prepare the bed by turning the soil under to a depth of 6-12, inches removing any debris, and lightly raking as level as possible.
- The addition of organic matter (leaf mold, compost, well-rotted manure) benefits all gardens and is essential in recently constructed neighborhoods.
- Plant on a cloudy day or in late afternoon to reduce transplant shock.
- Dig a hole for each plant large enough to amply accommodate the root ball.
- Unpot the plant and gently loosen the root ball with your hands to encourage good root growth.
- Place the top of the root ball even with the level of the surrounding soil. Fill with soil to the top of the root ball. Press soil down firmly with your hand.
- Use the plant tag as a location marker.
- Thoroughly water and apply a light mulch layer on top of the soil (1-2 inches) to conserve water and reduce weeds.
How to Grow Penstemon
- Keep weeds under control during the penstemon growing season. Weeds compete with plants for water, space and nutrients, so control them by either cultivating often or use a mulch to prevent their germination.
- Mulches can also help retain soil moisture and maintain even soil temperatures. For perennials, an organic mulch of aged bark or shredded leaves lends a natural look to the bed and will improve the soil as it breaks down in time. Always keep mulches off a plant’s stems to prevent possible rot.
- Careful watering is essential in getting penstemon perennials off to a good start. Water thoroughly at least once a week to help new roots grow down deeply. Soil should be damp at about 1 inch below the soil surface. You can check this by sticking your finger in the soil. Water early in the morning to give all leaves enough time to dry. One inch of rain or watering per week is recommended for most perennial plants. You can check to see if you need to add water by using a rain gauge.
- Until plants become established, some protection from extreme winds and direct, hot sunlight may be necessary. Good air movement is also important for penstemon plants.
- After new growth appears, a light fertilizer may be applied. Keep granular fertilizers away from the plant crown and foliage to avoid burn injury. Use low rates of a slow release fertilizer, as higher rates may encourage root rots.
- Cut back flower stalks to the ground after flowering to promote reblooming.
- Remove and discard foliage after a hard frost in fall.
- In colder regions, apply another layer of mulch (1-2 inches) after the ground freezes in fall. Evergreen boughs (from Christmas trees) provide additional protection. Remove this mulch in the spring.
- Divide plants in spring every three years.
Penstemon Growing Tips
- Many gardeners do not cut back perennial flower seed heads in the fall, but wait until early spring before the new foliage appears. This provides food for wildlife over the winter.
- Tall flower spikes can last a week in a fresh arrangement.
- When left to go to seed, stems with ripe, dry seeds pods are useful in dried arrangements.