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Guide to Arctostaphylos
In nature, manzanitas are
found growing in almost any combination of soils, elevations, exposures and
terrain. So, they are very
adaptable to a wide range of conditions. If this genus wasn't so
versatile, just knowing the wild origins of each
species or hybrids, (as described in the
table above), would suggest their basic
cultural needs. For example, if a manzanita has its origins by the coast,
clearly, it can safely be
grown in similar conditions to that environment, i.e., in well-draining soils, in
full sun in a moderate climate. In addition to knowing the a species'
history, whenever possible, observe manzanitas in its native
environment. Notice a species' typical patterns; where they
occur on a slope, what soil types they tend to inhabit, what sun exposure
they are most often found in,
etc. Be aware of what their general 'preferences' are, if you will.
Expanding beyond what the plant is already adapted to by
with the breadth of its tolerances, is what makes gardening fun,
a challenge, and to an extent, a mystery to be solved. Based on
our experience, we have listed, in the "Best Features" column,
each species' additional tolerances to sun, soils, heat, smog, frost, in
aesthetic features. For the most part,
all manzanitas are remarkably accepting of hostile conditions--all soil types, very hot sun,
smog, as well as freezing
temperatures. However, remember that the more variables, that a plant is
subject to, the more difficult a time it may have surviving. It may
become weakened, and susceptible to pathenogenic infestation, if it faces
too many growth challenges.
Finally, considering this information, scrutinize all the possible
places to plant your mazanita. Attempt to locate a microclimate in
your cultivated landscape that ties together all these
'plant-preferences.' Finding the right match between plant and
planting-place will significantly increase the odds of success with your
Planting and Establishing
While you can plant throughout the year, there are definitely more
desirable times to plant than others. At low elevations in southern
California, the best time to plant is in the Fall to early Winter.
Native plants most actively grow during the moist season. Being
established at this time of year, the plant will have the greatest
opportunity to grow
its roots deep--crucial to its survival, and you can save on your water
bill. We won't tell you when to water. With weather, soil,
slope, exposure and all the other variables that affect a plant's
requirement for water, we cannot tell you how often to
water your plants. However, our rule of thumb is to water
your manzanita as the soil starts to dry. Inspect the soil down a few
inches to get a true idea of sub-surface moisture. Moisture meters are
an inexpensive and effective way to check out the amount of water in the
Ultimately, in about 3-5 years, your manzanitas, can become independent
of your care. But if, there is a drought year, you may have to give
supplemental water to them. At this time please water with
restraint and water during the cool part of the day, rather than when
temperatures are excessive. Watering during the hot season is a risky
pursuit, as manzanitas are particularly vulnerable to the fungal
organisms rapidly reproducing at this time of year.
Know each species' original, wild habitat.
-- Scrutinize microclimates in your landscape.
-- Match the plant
to a microclimate or landscape conditions roughly similar to its original
-- Don't indulge manzanitas with too much fertilizer or water, because they are
adapted to poor soils and
sunny, dry locations. They will not do better with more of each!
-- Plant and establish them during the wet, cool season.
-- Water them when the sub-surface soil is on the dry side.
-- Establish them in this way through their second or third dry season. But, if
they need water over future dry seasons, by all means give it to them, in
the cool of the day, not when the temperatures are scorching.