Ellen Zagory

Elk Blue California rush (Juncus patens “Elk Blue”) is a tough, durable and attractive water-wise perennial. This California native offers a lot of plant with little work or water; that makes it a UC Davis Arboretum Durable Delight.

Durable Delights: Elk Blue California rush

Published: Saturday, Sep. 14, 2013 - 12:00 am
Last Modified: Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013 - 6:52 pm

This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum Durable Delights, 30 can’t-fail, easy-care plants well adapted to our region.

Elk Blue California rush

Juncus patens “Elk Blue”

Size: Under 2 feet.

Bloom season: Spring, summer, fall.

Exposure: Full sun to partial shade.

Pruning needs: Little or none; cut close to ground in winter to renew.

Water needs: After established, water twice a month.

Snapshot: This pretty California native is a natural for low-water gardens. Frost tolerant down to 15 degrees, California rush thrives in many challenging situations from dry shade to full sun with its roots 4 inches deep in pond water. (The more water it gets, the bigger the rush grows.) In the home landscape, rushes are especially useful to create strong vertical accents in low-maintenance plantings. The bluish tint to the foliage of this variety creates a lovely exclamation point for the front of plantings or in poorly drained soils. Rushes can be cut to the ground to rejuvenate them as needed. This evergreen perennial is well adapted to our hot, dry summers and wet winters. In addition to its attractive foliage, this variety bears small gold-brown flowers midstalk from spring through fall. You can see specimens in the Mary Wattis Brown Garden of California native plants in the UC Davis Arboretum on campus.

• For more on Durable Delights, click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu.

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