Home & Garden

California grass adds movement to dry garden

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.

Alkali sacaton

Sporobolus airodes

Size: Up to 4 feet tall

Bloom season: Summer, fall

Pruning needs: Cut back in winter to renew.

Exposure: Full sun

Water needs: Once established, water deeply once a week.

Snapshot: Live in Alkali Flats? This perennial is perfect for your neighborhood. With blue-green leaves, this California bunchgrass is native to desert areas (hence the alkali nickname). It’s right at home with salty or alkaline soils and doesn’t need much effort to put on a summer-long show with its willowy feather-like pink-gold flowers, which produce abundant seeds for birds. Early pioneers used sacaton as an indicator of groundwater. In California, it grows wild from the valley floor to 5,000 feet in elevation. This lacy grass adds movement to the dry garden. Another plus: It’s deer resistant. See specimens in the arboretum’s Mary Wattis Brown Garden of California Native Plants 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.