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The Santa Cruz Island buckwheat grows into a mounding evergreen shrub reaching 3-4 ft. tall, 5-6 ft. wide. Pale gray-green leaves are narrow in width and attached in whorl-like clusters at the ends of branches. Soft pink to rose owers occur from early spring into summer and then age into attractive reddish-brown seed heads by fall. This species comes from slopes and canyon walls of several of the Channel islands of California.

The Santa Cruz Island buckwheat is a member of the coastal sage and chaparral plant communities on coastal islands where it grows in poor soils, sunny exposures and with summer drought stress. It has attractive foliage, flower and seed character that makes it well suited to native plantings in the Inland Empire around the perimeter of coast live oak trees, and with other natives. As plants age they can be lightly pruned to reveal interesting branching character and can serve as a small rock garden specimen. This species easily reseeds in garden settings.

Water Needs

The Santa Cruz Island buckwheat easily adapts to warm and sunny climate conditions of the Inland Empire. Established plants grow well with very little and infrequent summer water. The chart shown below provides a recommended baseline guide to the monthly irrigation schedule and volume of supplemental water needed to maintain healthy growth throughout the average year. It should be noted there are several months indicated 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; more supplemental water commonly results in a longer flowering season and larger sizes.

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"

  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, Native
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Mounding
Growth Rate: Moderate
Height: 3 ft. - 4 ft.
Width: 5 ft. - 6 ft.
Water Needs: Low 1
Foliage Color: Pale green
Flower Color: Pink
Flower Season: Summer, Spring
Soil Adaptations: Calcareous soil
Exposure Adaptations: Heat, Fog, Drought, Coastal salt air, All day sun
Function: Wildlife value, Slopes, Rock gardens, Flowering accent plant, Banks, Attracts butterflies


Generally, little maintenance is necessary. To control size, cut back as much of the new-ish growth as desired while not in flower (April-ish). Do not prune in late spring as you will remove forming buds which 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 buckwheats. The seeds develop into valuable wildlife food and help shade the plant in the summer heat (1). "Deadheading" buckwheats would be tedious and time consuming and would take away much of what there is to love about this plant. Keep things easy and don't worry about it (S). If desired, remove dried seed heads beginning in mid-September and into the fall (1). 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 (1)



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