Q: These daisy-like plants sprout after the first rain every year and bloom all summer long. They are usually 4-6 inches tall; Each plant sets 1-3 flowers, but a few become small perennials up to 12 inches. This has been happening for about 10 years on an area of about 80 square meters. What do you think?
A: Santa Barbara Daisies (Erigeron karvinskianus) is a charming groundcover that, despite its name, is not native to California. It’s native to Mexico, which explains why it does so well in our climate. It grows low and bears small daisy-like flowers that have either pink or white petals.
It has a trailing growth habit and a plant can spread to a width of 5 feet or more. It tolerates poor soil (as long as it drains well) and is well behaved if not given too much water. When overwatered, it can get a little out of control. It benefits from occasional pruning.
At this time it is not on the list of invasive plants, although it has become naturalized in some coastal areas. I haven’t seen it for sale at the local nurseries or garden centers in at least ten years and many growers have stopped producing it.
If you want to grow a similar flowering plant native to California, try beach daisies (Erigeron glaucus) or silver carpet sea aster (Corethrogyne filaginifolia). Both natives will grow well in Southern California.
Q: Just curious why you never post health tips for growing cacti and succulents? It’s the new trend for Southern California, but I’ve never seen an article about it!
A: I rarely get questions about cacti, probably because they are hardy and not bothered by many pests.
Replacing your thirsty front yard grass with a selection of succulents can be a great way to save time and effort on maintenance and lower your water bill.
Many water districts in California offer discounts for turf removal and replacement. Before you begin your landscape redesign, check discount availability and requirements.
If you want to plant succulents, you should probably go all out. For example, don’t plant a cactus in the middle of a thirsty lawn. (Yes, I’ve seen that!) Cacti are tough, but they don’t tolerate overwatering, especially in soil that doesn’t drain freely.
If you are considering installing a water-bearing or low-maintenance landscape, remember that “low-maintenance” does not mean “maintenance-free,” especially for the first year or two. Deep rooted, healthy plants are the result of regular but infrequent and deep watering. Even in decomposed granite and gravel, weeds still appear.
Some succulents are not very long-lived, so they may need to be replaced when they start to deteriorate. Fortunately, many produce “pups” that can be separated from the dying mother plant and replanted.
Are you looking for more gardening tips? Here’s how to contact the Master Gardener program in your area.
Los Angeles District
[email protected]; 626-586-1988; http://celosangeles.ucanr.edu/UC_Master_Gardener_Program/
[email protected]; 949-809-9760; http://mgorange.ucanr.edu/
[email protected]; 951-683-6491 ext. 231; https://ucanr.edu/sites/RiversideMG/
County of San Bernardino
[email protected]; 909-387-2182; http://mgsb.ucanr.edu/