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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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Friday - April 24, 2015

From: Fort Worth, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Edible Plants, Shrubs
Title: Arctostaphylos Hanging Basket for Texas
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I would like to plant an Arctostaphylos uva-ursi in a hanging basket with a coco liner. Will this work, or will the roots grow too long? it's the 'Massachusetts' cultivar.

ANSWER:

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Kinnikinnick or Red Bearberry) is a great native shrub with evergreen leaves, delicate white and pink bell flowers and edible reddish purple fruit. But it does like cooler sites, particularly along the coast and in mountainous areas of Northern North America. Kinnikinnick willl probably grow in a large hanging basket but it won't thrive unless it is in a cooler site. The Missouri Botanical Gardens webpage for the cultivar 'Massachusetts' lists it as being able to grow in USDA zones 2-6. Fort Worth is in USDA zone 8a.

Our website has the following description ...
Red bearberry is a trailing, evergreen shrub with paddle-shaped leaves on flexible branches. The thick, leathery leaves, rolled under at the edges, are yellow-green in spring, dark-green in summer, and reddish-purple in the fall. Nodding clusters of small, bell-shaped, pink or white flowers occur on bright-red stems. Flowers in racemes on short branches. Bright-red berries succeed the flowers and persist into winter. This ground-trailing shrub has the papery, reddish, exfoliating bark typical of woody plants in northern climates. It is frequently seen as a ground cover in sandy areas such as the New Jersey pine barrens. It is very common on Cape Cod, where it covers vast areas in open, sandy, pine-studded communities. Its complete range is the largest of any in its genus, and it is the only Arctostaphylos species to occur outside of North America, ranging across northern Eurasia and across northern North America south to the mountains of Virginia, California, Arizona, and New Mexico, with isolated populations in the mountains of Guatemala in Central America. It is a hardy shrub for landscaping rocky or sandy sites.

There is one Arctostaphylos that grows in Texas and it is A. pungens (Pointleaf manzanita), but it grows much taller than A. uva-ursi and would not be appropriate for a hanging basket.

A rounded shrub, often forming dense thickets. Branches with smooth red-brown bark. A number of small mammals and ground birds eat the berries of this plant. Grows across the Southwest from California and Nevada to Texas. Mixed shrub and sagebrush communities, pinyon-juniper woods, drained sandy to gravelly areas, canyons, lower mountain slopes. This Arctostaphylos is also has edible fruit (for mammals and birds. Indigenous peoples used the fruit to make a cider-like drink for humans).

 

From the Image Gallery


Kinnikinnick
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Kinnikinnick
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Kinnikinnick
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Pointleaf manzanita
Arctostaphylos pungens

Pointleaf manzanita
Arctostaphylos pungens

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