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The Catalina cherry grows into a large evergreen shrub to low branching tree, capable of reaching 30 ft. tall, spreading 20 ft. wide. Its dark glossy green leaves grow 3-5 in. long; attractive spikes of creamy-white flowers grow in spring. Numerous red berry-like fruits with large seeds are produced in summer and mature to black and are valued by wildlife.

This subspecies of the native cherry is native to coastal areas and to the Channel Islands of southern California and Baja California. It is a handsome foliage plant that is mostly planted to become a tall screen plant or small tree on slopes and background areas in residential gardens. It combines well with many California natives and adapts to partial shade with low amounts of summer water.

Water Needs

The Catalina cherry grows well throughout the Inland Empire with normal winter rains and periodic deep watering 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 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; this species will grow faster and larger 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, click here.

Plant Properties

Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Upright, Low-branching, Dense
Growth Rate: Moderate
Height: 30 ft. - 45 ft.
Width: 20 ft. - 30 ft.
Water Needs: Low 1
Foliage Color: Dark green
Flower Color: Cream
Flower Season: Spring
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil, Moist soil, Deep soil
Exposure Adaptations: Morning sun, Heat, Drought, All day sun, Partial sun
Function: Wildlife value, Slopes, Screening, Restoration, Parks and open space, Foundations, Foliage accent plant, Flowering accent plant, Espalier, Banks, Background plant, Attracts bees, 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 (1). Feel free to lightly prune outer branches if shaping is needed in early Fall, but try to reserve any more substantial pruning for late spring (1). Pruning can be used to shape Catalina cherry into a small tree or dense hedge. If hedging, remember to taper the hedge, narrower at the top, and wider at the base, so it gets good sunlight access to the entire plant (2).



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