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Arboretum spotlight: Hummers flock to native snapdragon

Island snapdragon (Galvesia speciosa ‘Firecracker’) is a hummingbird favorite that adapts well to low-water landscapes.
Island snapdragon (Galvesia speciosa ‘Firecracker’) is a hummingbird favorite that adapts well to low-water landscapes. UC Davis Arboretum

This is one part in a new 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.

Island snapdragon

Galvesia speciosa ‘Firecracker’

Size: Up to 3 feet tall and wide.

Exposure: Full sun to partial shade.

Bloom season: Spring and summer.

Pruning needs: Prune to shape; may be necessary to clean up frost damage in our area.

Water needs: Low water; once established, water once or twice a month.

Snapshot: Snap to it! This California native forms a medium-sized, fast-growing shrub with fuzzy, lime-green foliage and bright red flowers, a favorite for hummingbirds. Native to the Channel Islands, this perennial is amenable to shaping and use as a hedge. In severe frost (under 26 degrees F), galvesia may be damaged so benefits from some protection, but it easily recovers when weather warms.

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

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