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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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Monday - August 19, 2013

From: Point Richmond, CA
Region: California
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Small shrub for Point Richmond CA
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I'm looking for a plant that grows 4-6 feet tall, but not too wide (more than 2-3 feet). I'd like it to be flowering (any color but white and preferably not red). It will be located between a salvia plant and lavender. I live near the water but not on the water, in Point Richmond, CA. It will get full sun. Ground will be damp once the plant's roots get deep (clay) but I'll give it plenty of fresh soil initially. thank you! ps: Lupin has been recommended but haven't tried it yet.

ANSWER:

There are many plants that will fit your 4-6 feet tall criteria, but it is more difficult to find a California native that is as slender as you would like.  You may have to resort to pruning to keep the width you want.  Lupinus species do offer several possibilities:

Lupinus arboreus (Yellow bush lupine) grows 4 to 5 feet tall. Here is more information from Las Pilitas Nursery in Santa Margarita and Escondido CA.

Lupinus polyphyllus (Bigleaf lupine) grows 3 to 5 feet high and 1.5 to 3 feet wide.  Here is more information from Seven Oaks Native Nursery in Albany OR.

Lupinus albifrons (Silver lupine) grows 3 to 5 feet high  Here is information about Lupinus albifrons (Silver bush lupine) from Las Pilitas Nursery.

You can see the Lupinus species available at Bay Natives in San Francisco; at Yerba Buena Nursery in Half Moon Bay

Here are a couple of other possibilities:

Trichostema lanatum (Woolly bluecurls) is an evergreen shrub that grows to 3 or 4 feet high and almost as wide.  Here is more information from Las Pilitas Nursery and from Yerba Buena Nursery in Half Moon Bay.

Fremontodendron californicum (California flannelbush) can grow to 12 feet tall or more, but with judicious pruning might work.  Here is more information from San Francisco Botanical Garden and Las Pilitas Nursery.

You can find other possibilities for nurseries in your area that specialize in native plants by searching in our National Suppliers Directory.

 

From the Image Gallery


Yellow bush lupine
Lupinus arboreus

Bigleaf lupine
Lupinus polyphyllus

Silver lupine
Lupinus albifrons

Woolly bluecurls
Trichostema lanatum

California flannelbush
Fremontodendron californicum

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