Galvezia speciosa (aka Gambelia speciosa)
Planting zone: Sunset Zones 14 to 24
Size: 3 to 6 feet tall, 5 to 7 feet wide
Bloom season: Most abundant in spring, intermittent year-round.
Exposure: Sun to partial shade in hot inland areas.
Pruning needs: Regular pinching encourages bushy growth. Pruning back to the crown annually prevents woody tissue buildup.
Water needs: Low to occasional watering once established.
Snapshot: Native to California, this perennial shrub has red tubular flowers that attract hummingbirds, butterflies and other pollinators.
The evergreen leaves are green to yellow-green, about 1 inch long and half an inch wide.
Galvezia speciosa tolerates light or heavy soils as long as drainage is adequate and is essentially pest-free except for an occasional aphid infestation. The plant is sensitive to cold but tolerates occasional light frosts (above 26 degrees Fahrenheit) and ocean spray.
Island snapdragon can be planted as a ground cover, pruned as a hedge, grown in containers or trained on a trellis. It can also be trained to spill over a bank or low wall.
Cultivars include Firecracker, which is more erect and compact, and Boca Rosa, which produces many blossoms.
The plant is native to islands off the coast of California, San Clemente, Catalina and Guadalupe Islands. It prefers a coastal climate, but will do well anywhere except high mountains and desert areas.
Island snapdragon generally needs good drainage and not overly rich or heavy soil to grow well. Too much water can cause crown rot and eventual death.
Amend native soil with organic matter and small gravel and mound it to insure good drainage, if necessary. Mulch with leaf litter, chips or bark, but keep mulch away from the plant crown. Make sure the root ball is moist when planting and never let the soil get soggy.
Got a gardening question?
In San Luis Obispo, call 805-781-5939; Arroyo Grande, 805-473-7190, and Templeton, 805-434-4105. Visit us at http://ucanr.org/sites/mgslo/ or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Instagram at slo_mgs and like us on Facebook. Informative garden workshops are held the third Saturday of every month, 10 a.m. to noon at 2156 Sierra Way in San Luis Obispo. Garden docents are available after the workshop until 1 p.m. To request a tour of the garden, call 805-781-5939.