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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

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

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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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Thursday - September 26, 2013

From: Temecula, CA
Region: Select Region
Topic: Plant Lists, Drought Tolerant
Title: Water-wise plants for clay soil in southern California
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

My yard is clay. I'm removing turf to put in water-wise plants and bushes. I need some low growing bushes and medium height bushes that will grow in clay and that will stay green in the summer. Hopefully there are some that flower and that attract butterflies. Thank you, Lilly

ANSWER:

Las Pilitas Nursery in Santa Margarita and Escondido has a guide to Easy Garden Design:  Dry Clay with an extensive list of plants.  Here are a few recommendations of various sizes:

Arctostaphylos manzanita (Whiteleaf manzanita) is evergreen and grows 6 to 12 feet in dry soils.

Artemisia californica (Coastal sagebrush) grows to 1 to 3 feet in dry poor soils and is evergreen.

Baccharis pilularis (Coyotebrush) grows in dry soils up to4 to 8 feet high and wide and is evergreen.

Dendromecon rigida (Tree poppy) is evergreen and grows 6 to 12 feet in dry rocky or clay soils.

Ephedra viridis (Mormon tea) is evergreen and grows to 3 feet in dry soils.

Penstemon heterophyllus (Bunchleaf penstemon) is a 1.5 feet evergreen that grows in dry soils.

Rhus integrifolia (Lemonade sumac) is evergreen and can grow to 8 feet.

Solanum umbelliferum (Bluewitch) is a rounded subshrub that grows 2 to 3 feet in dry soils.

Sphaeralcea ambigua (Desert globemallow) is a perennial that grows 1 to 3 feet.

You can check out the other plants on the list on their web page and in our Native Plant Database (search by scientific name).

 

From the Image Gallery


Bigberry manzanita
Arctostaphylos glauca

Coastal sagebrush
Artemisia californica

Coyotebrush
Baccharis pilularis

Tree poppy
Dendromecon rigida

Mormon tea
Ephedra viridis

Bunchleaf penstemon
Penstemon heterophyllus

Lemonade sumac
Rhus integrifolia

Bluewitch nightshade
Solanum umbelliferum

Desert globemallow
Sphaeralcea ambigua

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