Coastal Sage Scrub

Coastal sage scrub is a low scrubland plant community found in the California chaparral and woodlands ecoregion of coastal California and northern Baja California. It is characterized by low-growing aromatic, and drought-deciduous shrubs adapted to the semi-arid Mediterranean climate of the coastal lowlands. The community is sometimes called soft chaparral due to the predominance of soft, drought-deciduous leaves in contrast to the hard, waxy-cuticled leaves on sclerophyllous plants of California’s chaparral communities.


Common Name: Manzanita Hybrid
Latin Name: Arctostaphalos ‘Emerald Carpet’
Habitat: This hybrid does especially well on the northwestern coast, but can do well in quasi-drought areas, with watering.
Soil composition: ‘Emerald Carpet’ can do well either in relatively sandy or loamy soil, though it is thought that a lightly loamy soil is best. This type of soil will not only provide the Manzanita with sufficient nutrients to maintain its lush green color, but will likely have adequate draining.
Watering: Can be considered drought tolerant in the northwest, but in very dry areas should be watered 1-3 times per week, depending on season.
Light: Can handle partial shade, and may even do better with it in very hot and dry conditions, but otherwise should have a healthy amount of sun.
Size: This hybrid rarely grows higher than 1 foot tall, but can extend out to a width of 4-6 feet, making it a substantial ground cover plant.
Appearance: Has very deep green leaves which can be yellowish in nutrient poor soil. Has cinnamon colored bark, which is often hidden by the dense foliage.

The ‘Emerald Carpet’ cultivar was developed at the nearby Rancho Santa Anna Botanical Gardens, and serves well as either a drought resistant ground covering, or as a separator species between two varying garden themes. It is a hybrid of Kinnikinnick and Glossyleaf Manzanita. It inherits its deep green color from the later, and its hardiness from the former.

Ribes Viburnifolium (evergreen currant)

Common Name: Evergreen Currant
Latin Name: Ribes viburnifolium
Native Habitat: Baja California, and Santa Catalina Island
Soil Composition: Clay rich soil to well drained.
Water: Can handle less water in a clay soil, but can be watered once to twice a month regardless.
Light: Full to partial shade
Height x Width: Normally 3 feet high but can grow as high as 6. Can be used as a ground cover.

It has rich green foliage, though it can burn with too much sun and should therefore be used either in a shady area or under a large tree. However, when in shade it is quite drought tolerant, and with the right soil can be simply watered monthly. Also known as the Catalina Currant, it is common on Santa Catalina Island, though it is also found in Baja, and sometimes in San Diego County.


Common Name: White Sage
Latin Name: Salvia apiana
Native Habitat: Dry slopes and flat in coastal scrub, chaparral, and some woodlands and forests below 4,500ft. Santa Barbara County to northwestern Baja California.
Soil: Adaptable, well-drained preffered
Water: Drought tolerant to occasional
Light: Sun
Height X Width: 2 ft. X 3 ft.
Leave or Stems: Siver-green, aromatic, drought-deciduous

The white sage offers gardeners many pleasures such as beautiful floral display, strong scents, and bold foliage. Many California Indians believe that the white sage is sacred and use them in purification ceremonies.


Common Name: Purple Sage
Latin Name: Salvia leucophylia
Native Habitat: Common on dry, open hills and slopes in costal scrub and chaparral beow 2,000 ft. Monterey County south to northwestern Baja California.
Soil: Adaptable
Water: Drought tolerant to occasional
Light: Sun
Height X Width: 7ft. X 4ft.
Leave or Stems: Silver-green, aromatic, drought-deciduous

The purple sage is one of the easiest native sages to grow, although its common name may be misleading the plant produces spikes of light to rosy pink flowers in the spring. The foliage of the sage blends well with many other colors making it easy to blend in your garden.


Common Name: Fuchsia Flowered Gooseberry.
Latin Name: Ribes speciosum
Native Habitat: From Baja California North to Santa Clara.
Soil Composition: Dry, sandy, well drained soil.
Water: Once to twice a month, or none, depending on the season
Light: Full to partial shade.
Height x Width: 4-10 feet tall and 7 feet wide.

The Fuchsia Flowered Gooseberry has, as its name suggests fuchsia flowers during the spring season. These are trumpet shaped, and are good for attracting humming birds while the flowers are out. The plant has spiny stems are small red fruit. During the summer it may or may not be deciduous, depending on the level of drought stress it is under. Though it can tolerate this, it may look nicer if it is given a bit of extra water during this period of time.


Common Name: California Sagebrush
Latin Name: Artimisia Californica
Native Habitat: Coastal scrub, chaparral and dry foothills below 2,500 feet in dryer parts of central and southern California and Baja California
Soil: Dry, decomposed granite, sand, clay loam, low organic content, well drained
Water: None to twice a month
Light: Sun or shade
Height X Width: Max: 5 feet x 5 feet . Usual 3 feet x 3 feet
Leaves or Stems: Evergreen, silver, aromatic

The fruits are eaten by birds and it is a larval plant for butterflies. The blue-green lacy foliage is useful for indigestion and stomach cramps. It can also be used as a scent in a sauna.


Common Name: Cleveland Sage
Latin Name: Salvia Clevelandii
Native Habitat: Chaparral, coastal sagescrub in mountains mostly below 3,000 feet from San Diego County to Baja California
Soil: Dry, decomposed granite, sand, low organic content, well drained
Water: None to once a month
Light: Sun or shade
Height X Width: Max: 5 feet x 6 feet. Usual 3 feet x 4 feet
Leaves or Stems: Silver, aromatic, fuzzy, evergreen or dormant in late summer

The leaves can be used to make herbal teas. Hummingbirds use the flowers. Sages are known for their fragrance. The rich violet-blue flowers account for its popularity.


Common Name: Bigberry Manzanita
Latin Name: Arctostaphylos Glauca
Related species: Refugio Manzanita
Native Habitat: Dry slopes, chaparral below 4,700 feet from Contra Costa County to desert mountains to Baja California
Soil: Dry, decomposed granite, sand, sandstone, low organic content, well drained
Water: None to once a month, drip irrigation
Light: Sun to partial shade
Height X Width: Max: 25 ft. x 20 ft.
Leaves or stems: Evergreen, pale blue, smooth or velvety

Blue Manzanita is the most common southern California Manzanita.


Common Name: Wild Lilac Hybrid
Latin Name: Ceanothus ‘Concha’
Native Habitat: Chaparral and coastal bluffs below 1,500 feet. Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties California
Soil: Dry, sand, low organic content, well drained
Water: None to once a month
Light: Sun or shade
Height X Width: Max: 10 feet x 8 feet
Leaves or stems: Evergreen, dark green, small and round

Flowers heavily beginning in late winter and produces clusters of luminous cobalt blue flowers. Flowers are used by butterflies and honey plant for bees.