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Little-leaf cordia is an evergreen shrub with twisting branches and a mounding habit growing 8-12 ft. high and as wide. Small olive-green leaves, to 1/2 in. long are heavily veined; clusters of showy white flowers grow at the ends of branches in spring.

This species comes from desert areas of Baja California where it grows on rocky slopes, plains, sandy arroyos and silty bottomlands. It is well adapted to sun, heat, aridity and low amounts of summer moisture. This species is often used in southwestern landscapes where it is planted on slopes, for screening and in background areas. It develops and loose and open habit but can easily be trimmed to maintain a more compact and managed appearance.

Water Needs

Little-leaf cordia is well adapted to hot microclimate locations in the Inland Empire where it thrives in summer heat, normal winter rainfall and low amounts of summer water. It is a colorful flowering accent shrubs for courtyard and southwestern plantings in both commercial and residential settings. Monthly deep watering from spring through fall will enhance its spring flowering cycle and maintain good foliage character. It should be noted there are several months marked by an asterisk (*) when winter rains can provide sufficient moisture and irrigation is not needed. The high and low range of moisture indicates it can grow with varying amounts of water depending upon exposure conditions and size.

Irrigation Schedule and Graph

Low Water Use Plants

Irrigation Schedule 2

  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 to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 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" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 0" to 2" 0" to 2"

Range of supplemental summer water: 7"-14"
Range of supplemental winter water: 0"-10"

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
For more information on how to use this Irrigation Schedule and Graph, follow this link.

For information how to calculate your irrigation system’s schedule and precipitation rate, please follow this link.

Plant Properties

Plant Type: Shrub
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Upright, Open, Mounding, Low-branching, Arching
Growth Rate: Moderate
Height: 8 ft. - 12 ft.
Width: 8 ft. - 12 ft.
Water Needs: Low 2
Foliage Color: Dark green
Flower Color: White
Flower Season: Spring
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil, Silt, Sand, Rocky soil
Exposure Adaptations: Heat, Frost, Drought, Cold hardy, Aridity, All day sun
Function: Slopes, Screening, Residential spaces, Parks and open space, Flowering accent plant, Commercial spaces, Civic spaces, Banks, Background plant


Can be pruned to maintain a more compact form (4). Significant pruning is best done in winter (D).



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