Firecracker Penstemon

  • Scientific name: Penstemon eatonii
  • Adapted to shallow, rocky, sandy, gravelly areas.
  • Showy flowers attract pollinators.

Quantity is per pound. Example: 1 = 1 lb, 2 = 2 lbs, 3 = 3lbs, etc. This is pure seed, not a live plant.


Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatonii) is an erect, perennial, cool- season, short-lived forb, 16-39 in tall with scarlet colored flowers. It is found in North America, west to southwest from Colorado to California and south into New Mexico and Arizona. It is found on dry slopes and flats in sagebrush, pinyon-juniper, mountain mahogany and ponderosa pine plant

Firecracker penstemon (Penstemon eatonii) is chiefly used as a forb component for restoration and wildlife enhancement projects. It is not noted for having value as forage for livestock and forage use is limited by big game. Its showy flowers attract pollinators and other insects which provide a food source for birds and other animals. The fibrous root system and wide canopy cover make it a good plant for low-water use communities at 3,300-8,000 feet elevation in 10-16 inch annual rainfall zone.

Firecracker penstemon is adapted to shallow rocky, to stony loams, sandy loams, and gravelly loams that are moderately to very well-drained. It does not grow well in areas with poor drainage. It can survive in full sunlight, but may not tolerate hot, dry areas. It survives cold winter temperatures in the northern portion of its range if snow depths are adequate to cover the plant. It is adapted to USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4a to 8b and pH ranges of 6.6 (slightly acidic) to 8.5 (alkaline).

Fields for seed production can be established from direct seeding or from transplanting greenhouse grown containerized stock. Direct seeding should take place in late fall to allow for natural stratification of the seed. Firecracker penstemon should be seeded in 30-36 inch rows at a rate of 1.3 pounds PLS per acre (target 30 pure live seeds per linear foot of drill row) to allow for mechanical weed control. The use of weed barrier fabric is an alternative to allow closer spacing, reduce weeds and conserve soil moisture. Plant spacing of 18 inches provides for maximum growth and seed yield when using weed barrier fabric.


***Click on the “Quick Plant Facts” tab above for more information.

(Penstemon eatonii)

Firecracker Penstemon NRCS Plant Guide and Fact Sheet

PDF version of NRCS Plant Guide and Fact Sheet

Prepared By: Daniel G. Ogle USDA, NRCS, Idaho State Office, Boise, Idaho
J. Scott Peterson USDA, NRCS, National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Species Coordinator: Daniel G. Ogle USDA, NRCS, Idaho State Office, Boise, Idaho

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Helpful Links

Additional information about this product can be found on the academic websites linked below.


Many plants have more than one common and scientific name. We've listed a few of them below.

  • Firecracker Penstemon
  • Penstemon eatonii
  • Beardtongue

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