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Arctostaphylos uva-ursi ‘Point Reyes’

Kinnikinnick, Bearberry
Evergreen, Ground covers, Shrubs, Decorative fruit or berries


Plants vary from creeping groundcovers to treelike shrubs, but all have small, urn-shaped white or pink flowers, usually in late winter to early spring, followed by berrylike red or brown fruits that attract birds. Most are characterized by (and admired for) crooked branches with smooth red to purple bark.

Manzanitas require excellent drainage, but they can tolerate poor soil and in fact prefer rocky or sandy, acid soils to rich, heavy ones. To get quick coverage from low groundcover types, plant about 2 ft. apart, then mulch to suppress weeds and encourage rooting along stems. The first summer after planting any manzanita, water every 4–7 days, depending on the weather. Once established, plants in warm-summer areas generally thrive on once-a-month watering in well-drained soil; in heavy soil and where summers are cool, they need less frequent irrigation. You may get away with watering just once or twice a summer.

Regular pruning is not required. To make plants denser and more uniformly compact, pinch new spring growth to force branching. On types with interesting branch structure, remove any limbs that detract from effect. Don’t cut into bare wood; plants won’t send out new growth.

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

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Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Native from Northern California to Alaska and beyond. Plant is prostrate, spreading and rooting as it grows; eventually forms a mat 15 ft. wide. Small, glossy, leathery leaves are bright green, turning red or purplish in winter. White or pinkish flowers are followed by red fruits. Plants are slow to become established; mulch heavily between plants to suppress weeds until branches provide cover.

‘Point Reyes’

Dark green leaves are closely set along branches. More tolerant of heat and drought than some other varieties.

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