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Arboretum Spotlight: Desert peach is a keen low-water shrub

Arboretum Spotlight: Desert peach is a flowering shrub that can take the heat with less water.
Arboretum Spotlight: Desert peach is a flowering shrub that can take the heat with less water.

This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum’s “40 Plants You (Probably) Have Never Heard of – But Will Love,” 40 can’t-fail, easy-care, low-water plants well adapted to our region but hard to find.

Desert peach

Prunus andersonii

Size: 3 to 6 feet tall and wide

Bloom season: Pink flowers in spring

Exposure: Full sun

Pruning needs: Train into a pleasing shape while plant is young.

Water needs: Very low water use; once established, only monthly irrigation in summer, if at all.

Snapshot: Native to eastern California and Nevada, this peachy water-saver is more shrub than tree, topping out at 6 feet. But in spring it’s loaded with deep pink flowers like a flowering peach tree – but needs a fraction of the irrigation. Like true peaches, this desert cousin is deciduous. The fuzzy fruit is tiny – under 1/2-inch wide – and tends to be very dry. With its beautiful flower show, it’s a great shrub to try in the ultra-low water garden. Water it deeply for the first summer, then ignore it. A year after planting, it can get by on its own without much, if any, additional irrigation.

For more on “40 Plants,” click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu.

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