Plant of the month: Buckwheat family

If you’re driving along the coast or any of our state’s highways you can most likely spot members of the buckwheat family (genus Eriogonum). This whimsical flowering bush peeks through wild grasses like baby’s breath in a bouquet.

Native buckwheat plants are one of the largest genera in California, with over 125 species; you’ll find just about every hue on the color wheel. From vibrant shades of magenta and yellow to romantic pinks and whites, the flowers are a key source of nectar for butterflies and bees as well as various pollinators.

Buckwheat plants can tolerate dry environments as well as coastal climates. While sizes vary between species, some of the common plants are shrubs that grow up to 6 feet tall and 6 feet wide. Plant buckwheats in the fall through spring season in well-draining soil. Most prefer full sun, but depending on the species, they may tolerate a bit of shade. Because these are native plants, they can thrive in local conditions with minimal maintenance. Most drought-tolerant plants need only bi-monthly irrigation after their first year. Once they are established, or around the third year, deep watering once a month during the summer season is recommended.

Some popular buckwheats found in gardens are rosy buckwheat, which as the name suggests, flouts vivid pink summer flowers; Saint Catherine’s lace, which contains large clusters of cream-white flowers; and sulfur buckwheat, aptly named after the element for its brilliant yellow flowers minus the infamous sulfurous smell.

For more information on buckwheat plants visit,

For tips on growing plants that are disease and pathogen free, see guidance here and here.


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