A Guide to Arctostaphylos (Manzanita)

Cultural History

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 experimenting 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 addition to 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.

'Location, Location, Location'

Finally, considering this information, scrutinize all the possible places to plant your manzanita.  Attempt to locate a micro-climate 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 manzanita.

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 soil.  


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 micro-climates in your landscape.
  • Match the plant to a micro-climate or landscape conditions roughly similar to its original habitat.
  • 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.

      If, your manzanita is to be planted in among existing garden plants:

  • Be certain they have compatible water requirements.
  • If existing plants receive regular irrigation, plant manzanitas on top of a mound or swale to increase water drainage.
  • Plant on the outskirts or high side of a sprinkler system.
  • Look for the over-watering warning signs: excessive yellowing and dropping leaves, or black leaf spots, and relocate manzanita if necessary.


Guide to Arctostaphylos (Manzanita) Species, Selections and Hybrids
Species Common Name Derivation /Origins/Type

Sun, Partial Sun, Shade

H x W
Flower Color Best Features Drought Tolerance
      Sun PS Sh Height Width White Pink   L M H
Arctostaphylos densiflora
 'Howard McMinn'
Selection der;A. densiflora, Endangered. North Coastal Cal. below 300' Sun PS - 5-7' H 6-10' W - Pink Light green upright leaves, gnarly dark red bark, profuse pink flowers, easy to grow, and adaptable to various conditions. Cold Hardy to 15°F - M H
Arctostaphylos edmundsii
'Carmel Sur'
Little Sur Manzanita Central Coast - PS SH 2-3' H 4-6' H - Pink Glossy bright green groundcover with pink flowers gives a tidy look. Requires full or partial shade and well drained soil in warmer, inland areas. More tolerant of heavy soils near the coast. - M -
Arctostaphylos 'Emerald Carpet' Hybrid der; A. uva-ursi A. nummularia Sun PS - 10-18" H 24-36" W Wh - Dark green groundcover, fungus resistant, and very adaptable to sun, soils, 15°F. - M H

Eastwood Manzanita

Inland Mountains of So. Cal.

Sun - - 6-10' H 5-8' W Wh - Deep red bark, big berries, gray-green leaves, slope stabilizing roots. Cold Hardy. - - H


Chaparral, Inland Mountains of So. Cal. Sun - - 6-15' H 5-10'W Wh   Dark red bark, big berries, gray-green foliage, deep roots, Very hardy! - - H

Arctostaphylos ‘Greensphere’

Hybrid   der; A. edmundsii, Monterey County.   Sun PS - 4' H   
In age, 6' H 
4' W
In age, 6' W
- Pink Forms a formal, dense, dark green sphere with pink flowers at branch tips. Adaptable to a variety of soils. Cold Hardy. - M H
Arctostaphlyos hookeri ‘Buxifolius’
Monterey Manzanita  Monterey Peninsula, where it grows in full sun and sandy soils.  Sun PS - - - - - - - M H

Arctostaphylos hookeri ‘Sunset’

Hybrid,  Monterey County der; A. hookeri x A. pajaroensis Sun PS - 5' H 5' W Wh - Adaptable.  Moderately sized, coppery new growth. - M H
Arctostaphlyos hookeri ‘Wayside' Monterey Manzanita  selection
Monterey Peninsula, where it grows in full sun and sandy soils.  
Sun PS - 3-4' H  6-8' W - Pink A mounding shrub with exceptional shape and pretty pink flowers. Good on slopes and under trees. Tolerant of all soils. Cold Hardy to 15°F. - M H
Arctostaphylos insularis

Island Manzanita

Channel Islands

Sun PS -

10-15’ H

 10-15’ W

Wh - Best used in very large landscape plantings and in transitional gardens. - M H
‘John Dourley’
Selection  RS Ana Botanic Garden.   - Coastal Sun Inland PS - 2-3’ H  4-6’ W - Pink Foliage is greyish/bluish green with red on new growth. Well drained soil preferred, especially inland. - M H

Arctostaphylos manzanita 
‘Dr. Hurd’

Dr Hurd’s Manzanita

der; A. manzanita, Foothills of California

Sun - -

10-15’ H

10-15' W Wh Pink

Sculptural, dark red trunk with large, mint green leaves, deep roots, heat, drought and cold hardy to 15°F.


- H

Arctostaphylos nummularia 
‘Small Change’

Ft. Bragg Manzanita

Coastal California

- PS Sh 4-12" H  1-3’ W Wh - Dark green small features make this a good rock garden plant. Shade ok inland. - M


Arctostaphylos pajaroensis ‘Paradise’

Pajaro Manzanita

Coastal California Sun PS - 5-10 ’H  8' W - Pink Has bright, copper-colored foliage when young, deepening in age.  Adaptable. Heavy soils okay. - M H
'Pacific Mist'
- - Sun PS - 2 1/2' H 4-6' W Wh - Fast spreading groundcover. Pretty narrow gray leaves, red bark. Well drained solid inland; more tolerant coastal. Full sun. Cold hardy to 15°F. - M H
Arctostaphylos ‘Sunset' Hybrid,  Monterey County der; A. hookeri x A. pajaroensis Sun PS - 5' H 5' W Wh - Light green foliage tipped in copper, most flowers tinged in pink, Moderately sized, Adaptable. - M H
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi ‘Point Reyes’ Bearberry Coastal California Sun PS - 6-12"H 4-8'W - Pink Small, dark green foliage, creeps widely.  Heavy soils okay, Heat, smog, cold hardy to 15°F. - M H