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Thursday, August 10, 2017

David's List: Low maintenance and Low water Trees not Native to California

First off – avoid 'fast-growing' not only does it mean higher maintenance, but also higher water needs.

Secondly – check non-native plants against an up to date 'invasive species'list.  Select “Species Type” = Plants 

Mobile Apps on Invasive Species

What's invasive appWhat's Invasive! (free)The what's Invasive app displays local lists of top invasive plants and/or animals (with images and short descriptions to remind you of what they look like) that have been identified by the National Park Service or other invasive management authorities.
Calflora appCalflora Observer (free)The Calflora Observer is a smart phone app that allows you to quickly and efficiently report wild plant occurrences. This application makes it easy for you to report the species name, date and location of over 10,000 California native and non-native plant taxa.
Invasive Plants appInvasive Plants in Southern Forests: Identification and Management (free)  This app provides information on accurate identification of the 56 nonnative plants and groups that are currently invading the forests of the 13 Southern States.

This will be a list of mostly small trees (usually under 30'tall) – it is not inclusive, but it is a start and these trees will mostly not do you wrong. Always, always, always MULCH under your trees and when watering strive to get water down into the 18” root zone – if in doubt, use a soil probe. No freshly planted ANYTHING is drought resistant – even trees. In the first five or more years, special attention would be best until they get established.

Slide #s
Malus pumila Check for proper fruiting in our area and use a medium to dwarfing root stock to keep the tree from overtaking you. Apple is one of the best for a home garden because you can make the apples last longer with proper storage
Prunus dulcis Only a few will fruit in Southern California – make sure you have that covered (chill hours vary around here from 150 to 300 hours – anything with a higher value of chill hours must be avoided) - all of the fruit trees I've listed have a gorgeous floral display at some point in the year.
Chaste Tree
(Vitex agnus-castus) Produces lavender-purple flowers in early or mid-spring. The flowers give off a spicy aroma and the leaves smell faintly of sage. Shape by pruning; flowers are borne on new wood. Not extremely drought tolerant, give it some water in dry times.

Cotton Tree
Gossypium arboreum To about 15 feet, these are interesting trees that, with some pruning, make a delightful multiple interest tree in any front yard. Flowers that open yellow, slowly turn to red then black as the boll begins to grow, eventually opening up into puffs of white cotton. Also not so drought proof – a little summer water is appreciated.
Malus spp. Useful for producing pectin if you are in to homemade jams. White, pink or red flowers, self-pollinating and slow growing. Hardy without much care and a show in spring.
Crape Myrtle
(Lagerstroemia) This is a small tree of remarkable appearance when in bloom, early to mid-summer and attractive foliage come fall. The patchy attractive bark is reason enough alone to plant this tree – flowers in red, purple, white and is extremely heat resistant, not your most drought proof tree, and keep out of high winds.
Crataegus  sp.
There are species from Mexico, Europe and China, all are called hawthornes in common parlance. Flowers from magenta to white, they are attractive hedges and can make a good fence on their own with their deadly long spines. Berries make forage for birds and other species.

Jacaranda mimosifolia the common blue/purple flowered tree around LA. Not so small, one of the large on this list,the prolific flowers are beautiful or messy depending on viewpoint. Drought resistant as a mature tree, it needs plenty of water to establish. If planted as a community street tree the effect is magical or messy, depending on viewpoint.
Ziziphus jujuba, the Chinese Date Tree is a delightful small tree with pinnately compound leaves and small brown fruit that tastes similar to apples and can be dried. You must have two trees to get fruit,the commercial varieties are almost always Li and Lang.
Magnolia spp. Some species are barely more than shrubs – not to be confused with some that are quite large trees. Choose from: Star magnolia is a smaller variety of magnolia that produces beautiful, white, star-shaped flowers in early spring. The flowers are fragrant and long lasting. Grows up to 20' tall with similar spread. Cold and heat tolerant. Plant in full sun to partial shade in moist, well-drained soil. Saucer magnolia  (var Little Star) only grows about 16' tall and 20' wide, producing large pinkish-purple flowers in early spring. Plant this magnolia in a sheltered area in full sun and moist, well-drained soil.
Acer palmatum is a slow-growing small tree with beautiful, intricate, delicate leaves make this tree a real focal point in a garden. Foliage ranges from green to deep red; some leaves are light green, edged in red. Plant in partial shade in moist, acidic, well-drained soil. Protect from harsh afternoon sun
Olive Tree
Olea europaea
Melaleuca linariifolia Well cared for to 100' but usually closer to 30' (Melaleuca linariifolia) Tea tree grows up to 20' tall and 12' wide. Native to Australia, the tea tree has aromatic, evergreen leaves and produces tiny white, pink, or red flowers from late winter into summer. Enjoys western coastal areas and is drought tolerant when mature. Plant in full sun. The pealing bark make this tree much more interesting than a lot of other trees.

Asimina triloba Needing more water than the other plants on this list, the American pawpaw is a 15' - 30' fruit tree, with a tropical appearance. Purple mid-spring blooms give way to green fruits that ripen to black with a pear/banana taste. Leaves turn gold in fall. Plant at least two trees for pollination. Prune off low-growing branches to give this shrubby tree a more tree-like appearance. Plant in partial shade in loose soil' full sun in CA will toast it..
Prunus persica Peach trees grow 15' - 25' with dark green leaves that provide a beautiful contrast with the attractive mid-spring flowers and brilliant mid- to late summer fruit. Plant in full sun, in moist, well-drained soil. Mulch to protect the shallow roots. Prune in late winter. Most peaches are not self-fertile, depending on the variety you choose, you may need to plant more than one.

Prunus spp. Many plums do wonderfully in our area – they are prolific and of all the fruit trees require the most effort in pruning and keeping them to size. They are not horribly drought tolerant and will need summer water – especially in their first 10 years in order to get established. They can be extremely showy with their dark purple leaves.

Cydonia oblonga Quince grows 6' - 10' tall and wide, producing bright scarlet, pink, or white blossoms in spring. Some varieties bloom again in fall, but at the expense of fruitfulness. Tangled branches and sharp spines may detract from its usefulness in small spaces but make it a first-class barrier plant!. Fall-ripened fruit can be used to make jelly or jam. Prune after flowering to maintain shape.  Some scholars believe quince to be the forbidden fruit Eve enjoyed in the Garden of Eden.
Hymenosporum flavum, Australian relative of pittosporum. Besides the great dark green foliage and the sweet (honey) scent of it's flowers, it is the narrowness of this tree (to 6') that makes it useful in odd spots.

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