Q artemisia californica

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  • California (Coastal) Sagebrush Artemisia californica (Arr-tuh-MEE-see-uh cal-i-FOR-ni-cuh)

    Family: Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

    Native to: Central & SW CA coast from Marin/Napa Counties south to Baja CA; Coastal scrub, chaparral, dry foothills, especially near coast. Most common on coastal side of coastal hills/ranges, often on steep

    slopes. Also on Channel Islands, on S and E-facing slopes.

    Growth characteristics: woody sub-shrub mature height: 2-6 ft. mature width: 3-5 ft. Quick-growing (at least at first) shrub with many woody branches. New foliage is light green; older

    foliage more gray-green. Leaves are fine-textured and seasonally dimorphic (larger leaves in winter/spring; second set of smaller leaves persists through summer). Highly aromatic - the scent of the coastal sage scrub.

    Blooms/fruits: In W. Los Angeles county usually in summer to early fall. Blooms are pink-gold, like little round bells along flowering stalks. Interesting looking, but not flashy!

    Uses in the garden: Most often used for foliage texture and color as well as its pleasant scent. Makes a nice backdrop for flowering plants. Attractive in rock gardens, herb gardens, and in flower beds and

    borders. Good for erosion control. Fire-prone and allelopathic (inhibits growth of other plants). Canyon

    Gray & Montara cultivars are low-growing variants (1-2 ft. tall) for groundcovers.

    Sensible substitute for: Non-native aromatic shrub herbs like Rosemary & Thyme.

    Attracts: Excellent habitat plant. Provides roosting spots and cover for many species of birds, lizards & other small animals. Some birds eat seeds. Important summer/fall nectar & pollen source.


    Element Requirement

    Sun Full sun to part shade

    Soil Any well-drained; susceptible to root fungi in poorly draining soils

    Water Little needed; none or monthly summer water once established. Monthly water keeps it looking a bit tidier.

    Fertilizer none


    Management: Prune tips to encourage fullness any time. Prune back every couple of years in fall or winter (after bloom but before new leaves) to maintain shape. Dont prune into old wood. May naturally reseed on bare ground, but not often.

    Propagation: from seed: fairly easy; require light to germinate by cuttings: semi-soft wood and divisions in fall/winter. Can also be layered.

    Plant/seed sources (see list for source numbers): 1-3, 5, 8-14, 16, 20, 21, 24, 28 12/14/10 Project SOUND

  • Artemisia californica California Sagebrush