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Toyon is one of the premier evergreen native plants of California. It grows into a large evergreen shrub to small tree with a mounding habit, easily reaching 12-18 ft. tall and more. Dense foliage is comprised of dark green leathery leaves with serrated margins. Clusters of creamy-white flowers occur from late spring into summer that mature into colorful orange to red berries from fall through winter. Ripe berries are valued by many bird species.

Toyon is widely distributed throughout California in the chaparral and oak woodland plant communities. It prefers well-drained soils, full sun and tolerates summer drought conditions. It grows well throughout the Inland Empire and is particularly well suited to native gardens where its attractive foliage and fruit is appreciated for screening and background plantings. Mature plants can be pruned to expose branching character and to encourage a more tree-like habit.

Water Needs

Toyon is adapted to many climate and soil conditions, and grows well with normal winter rains and low amounts of supplemental water during summer. 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 narked 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; young plants will grow faster with the higher amounts of supplemental moisture in this range.

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, Dense
Growth Rate: Moderate
Height: 12 ft. - 25 ft.
Width: 12 ft. - 18 ft.
Water Needs: Low 1
Foliage Color: Dark green
Flower Color: White
Flower Season: Summer, Spring
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil, Clay
Exposure Adaptations: Morning sun, Heat, Drought, All day sun, Partial sun
Function: Wildlife value, Slopes, Screening, Restoration, Parks and open space, Foliage accent plant, Flowering accent plant, Background plant, Attracts butterflies


Prune by heading back as much of the new-ish growth as desired and shape to encourage long-term nice form and branching pattern in May (when young or if not concerned about the maximum flower and berry production) (1). If you want to grow toyon as a small tree, do not pinch back, but as the plan grows, remove side branches and choose a primary branch that will become the trunk. Loose staking of the trunk may be necessary for a year or more (but not long term) to support the trunk while it gains strength (3). Ensure best practices for staking are used, allowing enough movement of the trunk in the wind so it will develop strength and will not need the stake to stand (S). Structural pruning can be done in December. Pinch back branch tips starting when young to encourage a dense shrub, if desired, or, selectively think entire branches to train into a small tree. Flowers grow on early spring branches, so it is important to prune after fruit fades to preserve next year's blooms (2).



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