Home & Garden

Blue oak at home in Sacramento gardens

This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum “New Front Yard” series, 41 drought-tolerant and beautiful plants well adapted to our region.

Blue oak

Quercus douglasii

Size: Up to 75 feet tall; average about 40 feet tall and 50 feet wide

Bloom season: Catkins in spring

Pruning needs: Little or none

Exposure: Full sun

Water needs: Once established, water once or twice a month, or not at all

Snapshot: This graceful tree is right at home in Sacramento; it’s a valley native. It grows relatively slowly into a massive shade tree with a canopy as wide (or wider) than it is tall. The bluish green foliage turns pastel pink, yellow or orange in fall. Wildlife love its acorns. This tree does well in dry, hot conditions, but can’t tolerate traditional “lawn tree” locations. But once it puts its roots down, the blue oak can get by with little if any additional irrigation. See examples in the arboretum’s Mary Wattis Brown Garden of California Native Plants and near the gazebo of the Carolee Shields White Flower Garden on the UC Davis campus.

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Debbie Arrington

More online

See photo galleries of the arboretum’s Community Favorites and Arboretum All-Stars at sacbee.com/home_garden.