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One of the most intense flowering perennials among the California flora is the Sulphur buckwheat. This species is a low mounding perennial, 6-18 in. high, spreading 1-3 ft. across with pale green oval-shaped leaves. Brilliant sulphur-yellow owers occur from spring into summer. This variable species is native to cooler climate zones in many western states, and is a successful flowering perennial for 3-4 years in Inland Empire gardens.

Plant the sulphur buckwheat on well drained soils in full sun and sustain with low amounts of summer irrigation. This plant grows well in combination with other drought tolerant native shrubs and perennials on banks, around rocks, as a border plant and to attract butterflies.

Water Needs

Sulphur 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: Spreading, Mounding
Growth Rate: Moderate
Height: 6 in. - 18 in.
Width: 12 in. - 36 in.
Water Needs: Low 1
Foliage Color: Pale green, Medium green
Flower Color: Yellow
Flower Season: Summer, Spring
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil
Exposure Adaptations: Morning sun, All day sun, Partial sun
Function: Wildlife value, Rock gardens, Flowering accent plant, Borders, Attracts butterflies, Small spaces


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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