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California honeydew looks sweet in dry shade

Garden Gems: California honeydew is a native perennial herb that grows along the central coast. With fern-like foliage, it needs little water in dry shade.
Garden Gems: California honeydew is a native perennial herb that grows along the central coast. With fern-like foliage, it needs little water in dry shade.

This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum’s “Garden Gems” series – 45 can’t-fail, easy-care, low-water plants well adapted to our region and that add sparkle to drought-tolerant landscapes.

Coastal California honeydew

Horkelia californica var. californica

Size: Up to 10 to 12 inches tall and wide; spreads slowly over time.

Bloom season: In summer, small inconspicuous white flowers; extremely popular with native bumblebees.

Exposure: Full shade to partial sun.

Pruning needs: Cut back spent flower spikes after bloom.

Water needs: Low to medium; once established, water deeply once a week or every other week.

Snapshot: Never heard of California honeydew? You’re not alone. This plant is still rare in nurseries. A little known, low-growing California native perennial herb, honeydew grows naturally on the Central Coast from San Luis Obispo to the San Francisco bay. Its divided leaves give honeydew a fern-like appearance, perfect for dry shade. It’s a great choice for a wildlife garden; native bees love its little white flowers.

For more on “Garden Gems,” click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu.

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