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Description

A densely branched shrub growing 2-3 ft. high and as wide. Prickly foliage is comprised of small needle-like leaves. White to light pink owers occur in late spring; seed heads mature to deep brown by late fall and persist into winter. Common buckwheat is the most wide spread species of buckwheat in California. It grows in the coastal sage scrub plant communities in coastal and inland blus, plains and foothills. With in its range, it has proven to be adapt able to many types of soils, as well as heat, aridity and drought. It provides pollen for honey bees and produces an abundance of seeds for birds. This species is widely used for slope stabilization and restoration of natural areas, and is easily established by seed. A number of prostrate cultivars are grown as groundcovers in native plant gardens.

Water Needs

Common buckwheat grows well in Inland empire gardens in areas of full sun and with normal rainfall and 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 of field observations of growth and character. Understory leaf litter should be allowed to dry out in between summer waterings 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"

 
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.

Plant Properties

Plant Type: Shrub, Ground cover, Native
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Mounding, Dense
Growth Rate: Moderate
Height: 2 ft. - 3 ft.
Width: 2 ft. - 3 ft.
Water Needs: Low 1
Foliage Color: Medium green
Flower Color: Pink, White
Flower Season: Spring
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil, Clay, Calcareous soil
Exposure Adaptations: Heat, Drought, Aridity, All day sun
Function: Wildlife value, Slopes, Restoration, Banks, Background plant, Attracts bees, Attracts butterflies

Maintenance

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, although there is always a possibility they will not regrow. Expect new growth to emerge within a few weeks (1). A more conservative option is to cut back hard, but only cut back above the lowest few sets of leaves. This may not be as satisfactory aesthetically, but may be less of a risk of plants dying (3, S). If desired, they can also be lightly headed back in fall just to clean up form and encourage denser growth (7).

References

Associations

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