Plant of the month: Arctostaphylos edmunsii

Your spring garden might not be at the top of your to-do list during this time of year, but investing a little effort during winter months can set your showstopping garden up for success. With the right plants you can be saving time and water in the near future.

A popular water-wise plant for this time of year is the Arctostaphylos edmunsii, also known as Little Sur manzanita or “Carmel Sur” manzanita.  Just as its name reveals, this shrub is found on the coastal region of Monterey County. It is a low-lying plant able to survive in clay or sandy soil, so long as there is good drainage.

Like most manzanita plants (common name for species of the genus Arcostaphylos), the Sur manzanita blooms in the winter to early spring and carries berries in spring and summer. This particular species can bloom from November through April. It grows clusters of light pink or white flowers shaped almost like a radish or turnip – round at the top with a tapered bottom.  Its oval-shaped green leaves can be leathery and appear slightly frosted. The plant’s red berries are quite attractive to birds, and there are records that the berries were used to make a refreshing, cider-like drink by indigenous tribes.

The Little Sur manzanita thrives in partial shade when planted inland and in drier climates than the coast. Like most native plants, it requires very little water, once established. While all other manzanita species are slow growing, the Little Sur manzanita can spread fairly quickly and is often used as a ground cover. It is a hardy plant that can tolerate cold temperatures as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

To learn more about the Little Sur Manzanita, click here.

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

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  1. Love this plant! I wish it was easier to figure out which nursery is closest to my location to purchase your recommended plants.


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