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Saffron buckwheat is a small perennial type buckwheat that grows with striking gray to white foliage and sulphur-yellow flowers. This is a delicate plant, growing 12-18 in. high and produces a very intense display of chartreuse-yellow flowers in early spring.

Saffron buckwheat is a rare and endangered species that naturally occurs on dry slopes in the coastal sage scrub plant community throughout the Conejo Grade, Ventura County. Its small size and striking flower and foliage character have made it a popular plant for native gardens. While not long lived, this buckwheat will be among the most dramatic and eye-catching choices for borders, banks and rock gardens. Plant in well-drained soils, sunny exposures and sustain with low amounts of summer water.

Water Needs

Saffron buckwheat grows well in Inland Empire gardens in areas of full sun and with low amounts of 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 and you should make irrigation adjustments based on field observations of growth and character. Understory leaf litter should be allowed to dry out in between periodic summer watering to avoid excessive growth and disease problems.

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: Perennial, Native
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Mounding, Compact
Growth Rate: Short-lived, Moderate
Height: 12 in. - 18 in.
Width: 18 in. - 24 in.
Water Needs: Low 1
Foliage Color: Silvery white
Flower Color: Yellow
Flower Season: Spring
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil, Clay
Exposure Adaptations: Heat, Drought, Aridity, All day sun
Function: Rock gardens, Foliage accent plant, Flowering accent plant, California native, Borders, Banks, Attracts butterflies


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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