Immensely handsome dense rounded Manzanita that has smaller than average silver foliage and fantastic bark. Moderately fast growing shrub to 4′ tall x 5′ wide in 8 years. In late winter each branch tip is bedecked in clusters of small white flowers- they are born in profusion and expand from pink buds. Russet colored berries often follow and are consumed by wildlife. The black/mahogany glossy bark is beyond striking with the silver foliage. It splits, rolls up into ribbons, and exfoliates in late summer. In time it may be pruned to reveal trunks–for most of its youth they are hidden by dense almost formal looking foliage. Adaptable to many soils including clay soils- especially on slopes. Excellent long term landscape plant that looks great year round. Very good cold hardiness enduring 0ºF with no problem. Dig a hole 3x as big as the rootball in the pot to loosen the soil and allow the new roots to penetrate virgin soil. Water regularly through the first summer- then little to none in subsequent years. Combine with green leaved Arctos for great foliage contrast. Perfect on slopes, areas with intense reflected heat such as parking lot planter islands. Great urban shrub. Appreciates good air circulation.
Plant Type: Shrub
Shrubs are the backbone of Pacific Northwest Gardens. We’re able to grow an incredible amount from all over the world. Evergreen to deciduous the choices are vast. We focus on mostly (but not all) low water species and many native western species. Shrubs are often much less thirsty than other plants and live for a long time if properly sited. They can sport amazing foliage or showy flowers. From Manzanita to Ceanothus and even Grevilleas nothing makes a garden look more western. Our choice of shrubs is from years of experience growing them in our own gardens.
The best treatment leads to success
Treat all shrubs well when you plant. Dig a large hole and apply ample mulch and water to establish well. Do not let the shrub dry out completely until you are sure it is established and make a point to mulch each shrub. This is particularly important if you are creating a hedge or massing shrubs. Treating them all consistently well is the difference between continuity and chaos.
Pruning shrubs 101
The most daunting thing about growing shrubs is pruning. I try to include information about pruning each individual plant – but there are several rules that I adhere to when I prune a shrub that I am unfamiliar with. First, if you do not know the shrub let it bloom. Take note if it blooms on established wood from the previous season or if it grows and then blooms- an indication that it blooms on new wood. If it blooms on wood from the previous season – or ‘old wood’ then you can prune it directly AFTER blooming is done. That way you have less chance of eliminating bloom for the coming season and if it blooms on new wood you are safe too. Plants that bloom on new wood can be pruned in early spring some examples are Lagerstromia, Abelia, Indigofera. Once you understand this it makes pruning MUCH less intimidating. Make sure that you have very sharp pruners and it hurts nothing to sterilize them first. 1 TBS bleach to a bucket of water and a quick dip. Pruning can introduce disease so this is prudent.
New compact plants preclude pruning
Over the eons and more so lately nursery people have been selecting shrubs for more compact habits as well as vibrant bloom. Take advantage of these slower and smaller growing tendencies in the garden. Choosing the right size plant saves work in the future and eliminates the need to prune at all.
Many shrubs will morph into trees over time
In time many shrubs can pose as small trees and this should always be figured into a design. It is far easier and more natural to let a shrub become arboreal than the tortured look and continual work of making it small. Some shrubs that go on to become trees in time are Osmanthus (many) Phillyrea, Camellias, Manzanita (many). Leptospermum. Many reach tree like proportions in a decade or so. They may have their lower limbs removed to reveal shady planting space beneath and to accentuate the view of the bark which can be quite showy. They may also be trained to single leader to produce compact appropriately sized trees for courtyards and smaller gardens for a more formal appearance.
Topiary- a precise art
Topiary is an art that we dabble in at Xera. More than just torturing plants it is a process that takes a bit of planning and plant choice. It introduces a little discipline to the gardener in the form of regular maintenance and the effects are worth the effort. For the best effects and adaptability we use the tried and true forms of myrtle. They’ve been the subject of topiary for eons and we know why. They take a lot of pruning with no harm. They live long lives in containers are drought adapted and we choose the cold hardiest cultivars. The flowers which are adorable are in perfect scale with the leaves, Topiaries can introduce small amounts of formality in a garden and we love the way this plays in larger wild landscapes.
Rely on our soils own fertility
Shrubs in our climate and soils for the most part do not need fertilizer. In fact, over time I’ve seen more ill effects of overfertilization than I have seen benefits. Most often the plant is not getting enough water and the solution is a layer of mulch and a more consistent irrigation program. Often very drought adapted shrubs will react to added water in a dramatic way- Ceanothus, Grevilleas, Leptospermums, Arctostaphylos are genus’ that respond to water in a big way- in fact they react as if having been fertilized with no improvement to the soil at all and they explode in growth. Therefore, we recommend no supplemental irrigation for these genera when established but if they are slow to take off don’t be afraid to water, Irrigation requirements are in each description as well.
Shrubs- furniture for the garden
We need to shift our definition of shrubs. For too long they’ve been the tortured class of plants. The recent trend of grasses mixes excellently with shrubs but not if they are pruned into submission. Take the time to pick the correct plant for the site and be realistic. Plants grow fast in Oregon.
Climate Adapted Plants for Gardeners in the PNW
Roughbark Manzanita is a little known species of Arctostaphylos from the central California coast that has turned out to be a great garden plant. Nearly round leaves cling to the winding upward pointing stems. In a short amount of time it forms a rounded, spreading shrub to 3′ tall by 5′ wide (5 years). Late winter bring profuse blush pink urn shaped flowers- followed by clusters of large tight blushed red drupes. Full sun and average, well drained soil with good air circulation. No summer water at all when established. This not only gives it the neglect it adores it increases hardiness to cold in winter. Avoid, exposure to subfreezing winds… not a Manzanita for Gresham or Troutdale but in milder parts a great landscape shrub. Group with other drought adapted shrubs. Handsome smaller scale shrub for hot sunny sites. Develops shredded cinnamon red bark with time. Performs very well in containers. Photo credit below: Lance Wright.
Arctostaphylos silvicola ‘Ghostly’
Ghostly white fur covered foliage is almost too pale to believed and ‘Ghostly’ is an apt name. A distinctive Manzanita to 8’ tall and 4’ wide in 5 years. Fast growing in our climate. Do not be afraid to cut back lanky new growth for a more upright and sturdier plant. Tends to send out a lot of vertical stems, those may be cut to initiate denser branching. Prune in July. In late winter and early spring clusters of white urn shaped flowers appear at the branch tips and delight hummingbirds. There is no more silver/white foliaged Manzania that we have seen. Truly spectacular in well drained soil with good air circulation and little summer water once established. From a species native to the Santa Cruz Mtns. in California and surprisingly cold hardy.
Arctostaphylos standfordiana ‘Sonoma’
Wonderful smaller Manzanita with clusters of vivid pink flowers, grass green foliage, and deep red/mahogany stems and bark. To 5′ x 5′ in several years. In time it makes a mounding form. The large clusters of pink flowers in February and March hang gracefully like clumps of grapes. Easy to grow for a low hedge or focal point. This is a great shrub to begin spring. Full sun and average, un – amended soil with water to establish then absolutely none after that. Great shrub for baking hot locations and even compacted soil. Both the size of the leaves and flowers which are large makes one think that this would be a very large almost arboreal cultivar- but no. Moderately slow growing. Loved by hummingbirds and native bees to which this is a very important plant. The flowers are slightly less hot pink than A. b ‘Louis Edmonds’. A very very pretty shrub. Extraordinarily drought adapted. No summer water.
Arctostaphylos x ‘Austin Griffiths’
This is probably one of the very best garden Manzanitas in general. Large growing shrub with sage green foliage, copious, large clusters of pink flowers in winter, and the tell tale famous mahogany peeling bark. To 9′ x 7′ wide in 6 years, fast growing and well adapted to most well drained sites, including heavy clay soils on slopes. Little to no supplemental irrigation. Very resistant to black spot a leaf disease that can afflict Manzanitas. Specimen, or small garden tree. Good looking year round. Flowers appear in late December and are effective through February- not at all affected by cold. Anna’s hummingbirds are immediately in attendance. Provide a wide open exposed site with excellent air circulation. A wonderful garden shrub. We have a large specimen of this shrub in a container at the shop. Though the box it is in is huge it restricts the roots enough to make this Austin smaller than it would be in the ground. It begins blooming in mid-winter just as we open for the new season. Come on in and check out this specimen in person. Excellent garden Manzanita all around. Hybrid between A. manzanita ‘Dr. Hurd’ and A. x densiflora ‘Sentinel’. Wonderful plant. Dependable heavy flowering. Center bottom photo credit: Loree Bohl Danger Garden.
Arctostaphylos x ‘Gunmetal’
This is a mysterious Manzanita and one of the finest. We’ve driven by it for years on the highway to N. California and for years it captured our attention. A smaller rounded shrub of metallic silver gray with white flowers. So far it does not key out to any specific species so we’re pretty sure its a naturally occurring hybrid. And the silver gray foliage could be a result of a little bit of A. canescens. But the area where it lives has about 8 species and god knows how many hybrids in close vicinity. Either way its a stellar garden Manzanita with pointed metallic silver foliage and clusters of showy white flowers in winter/spring. The bark is a wonderful contrasting smooth deep mahogany- a great foil to the foliage. To 4′ x 4′ in 8 years. Moderately slow growing for an Arctostaphylos. In habitat it perches on a nearly vertical cliff of basalt. So, its adaptable. Not prone to black spot and it hails from an area with a naturally high rainfall. Avoid all supplemental water when established. It literally thrives on neglect. Silver foliage shines year round. Limited quantities. A Xera Plants favorite. Oregon native plant.
Xera Plants Introduction
Arctostaphylos x ‘John Dourley’
Exceptional low growing Manzanita with new growth emerging electric red and settling to a mature gray/blue. In late fall to early spring copious pale pink flowers appear- very pretty in concert with the vibrant new foliage and older blue leaves. To just 3′ tall by 6′ wide very shortly. Bark is cinnamon colored in time. Full sun and average well drained soil with great air circulation. Little to no summer irrigation. Extremely drought adapted hybrid that many consider to be one of the best. Excellent slope cover. Good appearance at all times. This durable and adaptable Manzanita is excellent for landscapes where little maintenance is required. Its handsome mounding dense habit precludes pruning and it blooms for an extended period, often beginning as early as November and continuing to spring. Great drought adapted, weed smothering evergreen shrub that is constantly attended by Anna’s hummingbirds in bloom. Very easy to grow.
Arctostaphylos x ‘Pacific Mist’
Wonderful low spreading Manzanita that we have grown for more than 20 years. Silver/gray pointed leaves densely clothe the spreading stems of this adaptable shrub. In time the lax, decumbent stems point upward at the tips. In spring white flowers are a bonus. To 2′ tall and 6′ wide it may be employed as an informal ground cover. Full sun to light shade and well drained soil of average fertility. Little to no summer water when established. Nice looking plant year round. In time it develops glossy cinnamon colored trunks/stems. Excellent on slopes. Takes more shade than most cultivars. Excellent cold hardiness. Plant on 30″ centers for a large ground cover. Tips may be pruned in spring to encourage density, otherwise it covers the ground densely. A hybrid of obscure parentage that has been around for decades.
Arctostaphylos x ‘Pajaro Hybrid’
Amazingly showy Manzanita that is a delight when new growth emerges stained in raspberry red before settling to a soft gray mauve mature tone. A dense and spreading shrub that always seems to be in growth and therefore never without the colorful foliage. From December to March a non-stop copious display of white tinted pink flowers, in concert with the foliage color its a knockout. To 4′ tall and 8′ wide in 7 years. Best in poor soil or native soil that has NOT been amended. Its an adaptable plant. Let it adapt. No summer water once established. Striking colorful shrub year round. Ground cover, hedges, focal points, blasting hot hellstrips. Anna’s hummers are invariably drawn to this showy winter bloomer. Easy.
Arctostaphylos x ‘Sunset’
One of the very best landscape shrubs for western Oregon. Named for the 50th anniversary of Sunset Magazine way back in 1977- its an excellent, garden tolerant Manzanita. Dense growth emerges orange/red before settling to a mature fashionable army green. The stems and leaf margins are outlined in fine white hairs- an elegant detail. In spring sporadic white flowers appear. Rounded dense shrub for full sun and average to poor soils, including the most compacted. This should be a basic landscape shrub in our climate- To 4′ x 6′ it covers the ground well. A perfect candidate for such places as frying hot circular planters in a sea of asphalt. This remarkable shrub will thrive and not flinch without a drop of supplemental irrigation- and it will still always look good. In fact, soil that is too rich or too much additional summer water leads to an initially massive plant that is then not long lived. A little rough living adds years and slows down what has got to be natural hybrid vigor. May be tip pruned to encourage density if required- and may even be sheared quite severely and still maintain its self respect. The shredding cinnamon/brown bark is handsome with time but the foliage mostly obscures it. Excellent cold hardiness. A truly climate adapted shrub. A Xera favorite shrub that we’ve grown for close to 20 years.
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