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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - December 08, 2009

From: Temecula, CA
Region: California
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Replacement for non-native wisteria in Temecula CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We recently moved into a house that has a Wisteria bush that has taken over the patio cover. I wish to take it out because it is so messy and looks bad when it is dormant. I am trying to figure out an alternative that is a bit cleaner and stays green year round. An added bonus would be one that attracts birds and butterflies. The ground is dry and it will get full sun. Thanks for any guidance you can give me

ANSWER:

There is a wisteria, Wisteria frutescens (American wisteria), native to North America that is very attractive and not nearly so invasive as the Asian wisteria, or Wisteria sinense, which is probably what you have. Unfortunately, that native wisteria grows no further west than Texas, and would not do well in California. In the western edge of Riverside County, near the border with Mexico, you are going to need plants that are semi-tropical in nature. You did not say if you wanted a shrub or a vine for your patio cover, so we will look for both in our Recommended Species for Southern California. Unfortunately, we did not find a single evergreen vine native to Southern California, so hopefully some of the flowering evergreen shrubs we found will suit your purposes. Follow the links on each plant to find out more about its habits, wildlife attractions and light requirements.

Shrubs for Southern California:

Arctostaphylos hookeri (Hooker's manzanita) - 2 to 4 ft. tall, evergreen, blooms white, pink February to April, attracts birds, nectar source

Carpenteria californica (tree anemone) - 4 to 8 ft. tall, evergreen, blooms white, yellow April to July, fragrant flowers

Ceanothus velutinus (snowbrush ceanothus) - 3 to 5 ft., evergreen, blooms white April to August, attracts butterflies

Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda (shrubby cinquefoil) - 3 to 4 ft., evergreen, blooms yellow June to September, attracts butterflies

Heteromeles arbutifolia (toyon) - 6 to 8 ft., evergreen, blooms white June to September, birds eat berries

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Arctostaphylos hookeri

Carpenteria californica

Ceanothus velutinus

Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda

Heteromeles arbutifolia

 

 

 

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