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TRPA Article Saturday September 3, 2022

Our featured plant this week is Santa Cruz Island Buckwheat, a garden warrior. It has bloomed in the Tule River Parkway Native Plant Gardens all summer and will keep its flowers into the fall. Santa Cruz Island Buckwheat is easy to grow. Plant on dry, well-drained shallow slopes or flats, and surround with plenty of mulch or rocks. It's extremely drought tolerant, and after the first two years, it only requires monthly summer watering. Even when drought-stressed in the summer, the plant looks beautiful, turning a beautiful silvery green color as the soil dries out. This beautiful, uncommon shrub is easy to grow and looks great year-round with very little maintenance. Santa Cruz Island Buckwheat is native to the Channel Islands of California but grows very well in the Central Valley. It is a rounded shrub that is two to three feet tall and five feet wide in two years. As this buckwheat ages, it grows slowly to twice this size. The flowers are densely clustered and held above the leaves. The flowers start out a delicate pink and turn rust color then chocolate brown as they age. Santa Cruz Island Buckwheat can be used for bank stabilization, and bee, bird, and butterfly gardens. Plan your low-water use garden by choosing companion plants that also need very little supplemental water such as California Encelia, Sagebrush, and Bladderpod. Generally, little maintenance is necessary. To control the size, cut back as much of the new-ish growth as desired in early spring. Do not prune in late spring as you will remove buds that will form this season’s blooms. After flowering, leave spent flowers to dry into red / brown clusters. This is part of the desired look of native buckwheat's. The seeds develop into valuable wildlife food and help shade the plant in the summer heat. If desired, remove dried seed heads beginning in mid-September and into the fall. Older plants that look like they need refreshing can be cut back hard into older wood in November. Expect new growth to emerge within a few weeks. The following are just five of the plants which you can see blooming in a quarter-mile walk along the

Tule River Parkway between Jaye Street and Parkway Drive.

1. Santa Cruz Island Buckwheat (Eriogonum arborescent) 

2. Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata)

3. Narrow Leaf Milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis)

4. Common Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)

5. Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis)

Many California native plants are available at Luis’ Nursery 139 S Mariposa Ave, Visalia, Quercus Landscape Design in Springville, and Alta Vista Nursery in Three Rivers which is open by appointment at 559 799 7438. More information on this plant can be found at by searching for the plant by name. Each of the Native Plant Demonstration Gardens is featured on the website The Tule River Parkway is a City of Porterville public park which features a three-mile paved walking and bicycle path. The gardens were planted and maintained by volunteers with project management by the Tule River Parkway Association. We have volunteer garden days each month. Follow Tule River Parkway Association on Facebook for announcements. Volunteers are welcome to join us to care for the gardens on September 3, 15, 17, and 24 from 7:30 am till 10:30 am. Visit and join our Facebook group of the same name. The public is encouraged to explore the gardens to learn more about the featured plants and the project. We are looking for volunteers or groups to adopt a garden or restoration area. For more information contact TRPA at or Cathy Capone at 559 361 9164.

Submitted by Cathy Capone 8-31-2022

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