Monday, February 1, 2010

More Manzanitas in bloom...

Winter is bloom time for many a Manzanita...Last month, two Paradise Manzanitas (Arctostaphylos pajaroensis) growing along the walkway to our front entry were the first of the manzanitas on our property to bloom.

A couple more have now followed suit:

1/31/10 'Howard McMinn' Manzanita (Arctostaphylos densiflora)

1/30/10 'Howard McMinn' Manzanita (Arctostaphylos densiflora)

1/30/10 Danville/Big Sur Manzanita (Arctostaphylos edmundsii)
This is a young'un, but it still managed to eke out 3-4 tiny blossoms. 

Second to Camissonia, Arctostaphylos is my next all-time favorite genus. In fact, call it an obsession, but in the last three years I've managed to install over 30 species, selections and cultivars of manzanitas, after having killed about as many by trial and error. 

Once established, most manzanitas are about as drought tolerant and fool-proof as they come. The only ones that haven't worked so well for me are some of the more northerly species or less drought tolerant varieties, including Glossyleaf Manzanita (Arctostaphylos nummularia) and Bearberry (A. uva-ursi). 

Some basic rules of thumb which I've learned the hard way with regard to manzanita culture here in Southern California (or at least in my garden) are:

1. Always plant in the fall. 

2. Dig a hole just slightly larger than the root ball, literally flood hole with water to the brim and let soak in at least an hour before planting. Soil with good drainage is ESSENTIAL.

3. Plant manzanita and water well. 

4. If the rains don't come, water manzanita thoroughly about once a week thereafter. 

5. Once the weather warms up later in the spring, deep water about once a month for the first year. After that, manzanita should be established and needs no supplemental watering during the summer months. 

6. Do not add fertilizer or amendments to the soil. The leaner the better. 

7. Above rules applies to many but not all manzanitas. Know Thy Manzanita and Where it Hails From. 

My main sources for manzanita plants are:
  • Las Pilitas Nursery (both Escondido and mail order through their Santa Margarita location)
  • Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (fall & spring plant sales)
  • UC Riverside Botanic Gardens (fall & spring plant sales)
  • Santa Rosa Plateau (fall & spring plant sales sponsored by the Nature Conservancy)
  • Armstrong Garden Center, Temecula (they occasionally stock CA natives, but will also special order for customers from wholesale nurseries like Native Sons and San Marcos Growers)


  1. Manzanitas remind me of my childhood in California. I love the picture of the beautiful flowers.

  2. Yes, the Manzanitas are in many ways quintessentially Californian. Superb landscape specimens!