Description

This garden palette has been designed to complement existing coast live oak trees occurring in gardens and landscapes throughout the Inland Empire. Our native oaks are often protected and several local cities have established ordinances and provide guidelines to restrict removal and to care for these trees. Many people who have oaks in their gardens consider themselves to be very fortunate.

It is often desirable to add plantings around existing coast live oaks, and in these situations, we advocate the planting of other California native species and cultivars due to their horticultural compatibility. The companion plants included in this palette are well suited for perimeter locations where there is more sun exposure and where they can be planted with minimum disturbance to existing tree roots. These plants are also adapted to growing with seasonal rains and low amounts of supplemental water during the summer months.

Plant List

Trees

Quercus agrifolia

Common Name: Coast live oak
Plant Type: Tree, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 30 ft. - 60 ft.   Width: 40 ft. - 70 ft.

Quercus engelmannii

Common Name: Engelmann oak
Plant Type: Tree, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 25 ft. - 60 ft.   Width: 25 ft. - 60 ft.

Shrubs

Arctostaphylos ‘Howard McMinn’

Common Name: McMinn manzanita
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: Morning sun, All day sun
Height: 6 ft. - 8 ft.   Width: 6 ft. - 8 ft.

Arctostaphylos ‘John Dourley’

Common Name: Dourley manzanita
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: Morning sun, All day sun
Height: 3 ft. - 4 ft.   Width: 5 ft. - 6 ft.

Arctostaphylos ‘Lester Rowntree’

Common Name: Lester Rowntree manzanita
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: All day sun, Partial sun
Height: 8 ft. - 10 ft.   Width: 10 ft. - 15 ft.

Arctostaphylos bakeri ‘Louis Edmunds’

Common Name: Louis Edmunds manzanita
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: Morning sun, Partial sun
Height: 8 ft. - 10 ft.   Width: 6 ft. - 8 ft.

Ceanothus ‘Concha’

Common Name: Concha wild lilac
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: Morning sun, All day sun
Height: 6 ft. - 9 ft.   Width: 6 ft. - 10 ft.

Ceanothus ‘Dark Star’

Common Name: Dark Star wild lilac
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 4 ft. - 6 ft.   Width: 6 ft. - 10 ft.

Eriogonum fasciculatum

Common Name: Common buckwheat
Plant Type: Shrub, Ground cover, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 2 ft. - 3 ft.   Width: 2 ft. - 3 ft.

Heteromeles arbutifolia

Common Name: Toyon
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: Morning sun, All day sun, Partial sun
Height: 12 ft. - 25 ft.   Width: 12 ft. - 18 ft.

Prunus ilicifolia ssp. ilicifolia

Common Name: Hollyleaf cherry
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: Moderate shade, All day sun, Partial sun
Height: 15 ft. - 30 ft.   Width: 15 ft. - 30 ft.

Rhamnus californica + cvs

Common Name: Coffeeberry
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: Morning sun, All day sun, Partial sun
Height: 8 ft. - 10 ft.   Width: 8 ft. - 10 ft.

Rhamnus crocea

Common Name: Redberry
Plant Type: Shrub
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 6 ft. - 8 ft.   Width: 6 ft. - 8 ft.

Rhus ovata

Common Name: Sugar bush
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 8 ft. - 35 ft.   Width: 20 ft. - 25 ft.

Ribes malvaceum

Common Name: Chaparral currant
Plant Type: Shrub
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: Moderate shade, Partial sun
Height: 4 ft. - 6 ft.   Width: 4 ft. - 6 ft.

Perennials

Lupinus excubitus

Common Name: Grape soda lupine
Plant Type: Perennial, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 2 ft. - 3 ft.   Width: 3 ft. - 4 ft.

Mimulus aurantiacus

Common Name: Sticky monkey flower
Plant Type: Perennial, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 2 ft. - 3 ft.   Width: 2 ft. - 3 ft.

Penstemon spectabilis

Common Name: Showy penstemon
Plant Type: Perennial, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 3 ft. - 5 ft.   Width: 2 ft. - 3 ft.

Romneya coulteri + cv

Common Name: Matilija poppy
Plant Type: Perennial, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: Morning sun, All day sun, Partial sun
Height: 6 ft. - 10 ft.   Width: 6 ft. - 10 ft.

Salvia spathacea

Common Name: Hummingbird sage
Plant Type: Perennial, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade, Partial sun
Height: 12 in. - 18 in.   Width: 12 in. - 18 in.

Ground Covers and Vines

Arctostaphylos hookeri ‘Monterey Carpet’

Common Name: Monterey Carpet manzanita
Plant Type: Shrub, Ground cover, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade, All day sun
Height: 1 ft. - 2 ft.   Width: 8 ft. - 12 ft.

Baccharis pilularis ‘Pigeon Point’

Common Name: Pigeon Point Coyote brush
Plant Type: Shrub, Ground cover
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 18 in. - 24 in.   Width: 6 ft. - 9 ft.

Clematis lasiantha

Common Name: Chaparral clematis
Plant Type: Vine
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: Morning sun, Partial sun
Height: 12 ft. - 18 ft.   Width: 12 ft. - 18 ft.

Ribes viburnifolium

Common Name: Evergreen currant
Plant Type: Shrub, Ground cover, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade
Height: 5 ft. - 7 ft.   Width: 5 ft. - 7 ft.

Salvia ‘Mrs. Beard’

Common Name: Mrs. Beard sage
Plant Type: Shrub, Ground cover, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 18 in. - 24 in.   Width: 4 ft. - 6 ft.

Horticultural Preferences

Most coast live oak trees grow best with ample space and where the understory area below their canopy is undisturbed and covered with natural leaf litter that keeps the soil cool through spring and summer. These conditions enable healthy root growth, rich soil biology, and a natural cycle of winter soil moisture and summer dryness. Normal winter rains will provide enough moisture to support healthy springtime growth. It is important to keep the understory mulch dry during summer in order to avoid problems with oak root fungus.

Aesthetic Character

The coast live oak is one of our most widely recognized and appreciated California native trees. Over time it develops a broad canopy, massive trunk and bold branching character. Many trees achieve heritage class sizes and become local landmarks in parks and gardens. The combination of dense, dark, evergreen foliage contributes to the monumental stature of mature trees. Simple understory shrub plantings can add visual interest and seasonal character and limit potential damage to oak tree roots.

Moisture Needs

Existing oaks of all ages grow best when they receive normal amounts of winter rains and when their root systems are not damaged or reduced by buildings, pavement or compactions. However, when roots have been impacted and winter rains are below normal, deep monthly irrigation can help maintain healthy plants. The high and low range of the irrigation schedule shown below indicates these plants can grow with varying amounts of water depending upon exposure conditions and maturity of plants. Those months noted by an asterisk (*) is when normal rains can provide sufficient wintertime moisture and irrigation is not needed.

Irrigation Schedule and Graph

Low Water Use Plants

Irrigation Schedule 1

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
Runs per Month 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 1x 1x 1x 1x 1x 1x 1x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x
Inches per Run 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1"
 
Inches per Month 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 0" to 2" 0" to 2"

Range of supplemental summer water: 7"
Range of supplemental winter water: 0"-10"

 
0"-2"
0"-2"
0"-2"
1"
1"
1"
1"
1"
1"
1"
0"-2"
0"-2"
  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
For more information on how to use this Irrigation Schedule and Graph, click here.