Types of Manzanita Trees and Shrubs (With Pictures) – Identification Guide

The gorgeous red bark of manzanita trees and shrubs makes them a stunning blooming plant. Bell-shaped light pink or white blooms bloom on little decorative trees or shrubs. The beautiful reddish-brown or mahogany bark that covers twisted, knotted branches is the most appealing characteristic of evergreen plants.

Compact bushes or little manzanita trees may reach heights of up to 20 feet (6 meters) or be ground-hugging decorative shrubs.

In any garden landscape that experiences mild winters, manzanita trees are a lovely addition. Manzanita trees have a year-long visual appeal because of its evergreen foliage, winter blossoms, and colorful bark. Manzanita trees are also drought-tolerant plants that do not need a lot of maintenance.

For your landscape, what sort of manzanita trees are the best? How can you cultivate manzanita plant foliage in your garden? In a garden, what are the most common problems with manzanita trees? This article intends to provide an answer to these and other concerns.

What is the Manzanita Tree (Arctostaphylos)?

Manzanita trees belong to the flowering plant genus Arctostaphylos and are a kind of tiny tree with shrubby growth. The trees grow in USDA zones 8 through 10 on the western coast of the United States. Apart from one, all of the manzanita trees have green leaves. There are approximately 60 species.

Upright-spreading manzanita trees with long, twisted, curving branches covered in a heavy red bark are common. The tree blooms with clusters of dangling urn-shaped flowers in late winter or early spring, and the dark red limbs and twigs are covered in pointed, oval leaves.

Little edible berries bloom after the manzanita blooms. Big berry manzanita (Arctostaphylos glauca), for example, is the most common species of manzanita trees, reaching 20 feet tall (6 meters). The tallest manzanita tree, reportedly growing in California, is 32 feet (10 meters) tall, according to some sources.

Manzanitas, or big berry manzanita, are versatile trees that can be cultivated in a variety of soil types and tolerate full sun and drought. Manzanita trees, on the other hand, seem to be lush and vigorous no matter what season it is. The shrub-like desert trees only need watering once a month, even during hot, dry summers on the west coast.

Manzanita Tree Identification

The lustrous red or mahogany-colored bark of a manzanita tree is the most distinguishing characteristic. The manzanita tree stands out in a landscape because of its deep red bark. In addition, the pale to dark green oval leaves contrast with clusters of bell-shaped pink or white flowers that gracefully dangle from reddish twisted branches.

Little manzanita trees with rounded crown create a distinctive vase shape in the landscape. At the base of a multi-stemmed tree, the crooked red branches are often visible. This is a popular small tree for xeriscape landscapes because of its identifiable branching structure, red bark, lily-of-the-valley blooms, tiny fruits, and evergreen leaves.

Manzanita Tree Wood

When dried, manzanita wood has a distinctive grain, strength, and hue. Short branching with twisted, bent, or contorted forms make up the multiple stems and branches. The wood from this manzanita species is valuable for producing ornamental items. Also, since the wood is difficult to cure, it usually splits along the grain.

Since it dies on the shrub while preserving its deep, rich hues, manzanita tree wood has a special quality. Carved or ornamental items are created by craftspeople using red hardwood. In addition, due to oils in the leaves and branches, manzanitas wood burns readily and produces high temperatures.

Manzanita Bark

Due to its smooth feel and red hues, manzanita bark is easily distinguishable. Manzanita bark may be orange, red, or reddish-brown in color depending on the species and how fast it grows. The bark’s outermost layer of bark floats away in tiny flakes, which is an unusual characteristic.

In the summer, manzanita bark’s unusual peeling action makes it easy to identify. As the deep red bark wrinkles and begins to peel, a fresh layer of greenish bark is exposed. As a result, the shrub-like manzanita tree is covered in orange, red, and green during the summer. The tree, on the other hand, will transform its color in the autumn.

Manzanita Tree Leaves

Little, spherical to oval leaves, 0.78″ (2 cm) long and wide, cover manzanita trees. Throughout the year, manzanita leaves stay green. The waxy feel to the evergreen leaves distinguishes them as being rather thick and leathery. The plant is very drought tolerant because of the manzanita leaves’ ability to retain moisture.

Manzanita Flowers

In late winter or early spring, manzanita blossoms range in color from pink to white. The tree produces loads of tiny bell-shaped flowers that are evergreen. Manzanita blooms range in hue from white to deep pink, with lilac pink thrown in for good measure. Furthermore, pollinators are drawn to the lovely blooms due to their sweet honey fragrance.

Manzanita Berries

The manzanita tree is famous for its sweet berry-like drupes, which are known as arctostaphylos uva-ursi. During the summer, these little apple-like drupes turn green to a rich crimson color. Little red tree berry berries have delicious meat with a slightly acidic flavor around one or more big seeds.

In Spanish, the word manzanita means “small apple.” And the little manzanita fruits resemble tiny apples when viewed up close. The berries may be consumed, converted into cider, or utilized in cooking. Avoid eating the seeds, however, as they contain the same cyanide compound as apple seeds, just like with apples.

Manzanita Seeds

On a manzanita tree, the seeds in the berry-like drupes are spherical and hard. Because they need special treatment, germinating manzanita seeds is difficult. After being exposed to heat and smoke in the wild, like after a forest fire, the seeds germinate. After planting flowers, some gardeners burn a layer of pine needles on the ground to imitate the process.

Growing Manzanita Trees in the Landscape

In landscapes and gardens, manzanita trees are prized for their ornamental landscaping characteristics. In the western United States, shrub-like manzanita trees brighten up a dry environment in USDA zones 8 to 10. Perfect example plants are bigger manzanita bushes that have been pruned to display the twisted crimson branches. In full sun, low-growing manzanita bushes are ideal for ground cover.

Types of Manzanita Trees

Manzanita trees and shrubs are found throughout California, with over 40 different species. Manzanita hybrids, cultivars, and subspecies are also available to choose from. Trees thrive in the heat of dry summers and can withstand the dampness of winter. Here are a few manzanita tree and shrub options for you to consider.

Common Manzanita (Arctostaphylos manzanita)

This evergreen tree has lovely mahogany-colored branches that twist and turn, and is known as the whiteleaf manzanita. Its allure is enhanced by the lance-shaped leaves and its lovely cluster of brilliant white blooms. The ten to twelve foot (3.6 m) tall, wide multi-stemmed manzanita tree has a spreading nature.

Vine Hill Manzanita (Arctostaphylos densiflora)

Vine hill manzanita (Arctostaphylos densiflora) is a tiny, low-growing blooming bush that grows to be 3 feet (1 meter) tall. Lanceolate evergreen leaves have a lustrous sheen and grow on manzanita shrub. Drooping clusters of light pink bell-shaped blooms emerge in late winter, followed by tiny red drupes. USDA zones 7 through 10.

Baker’s Manzanita (Arctostaphylos bakeri ‘Louis Edmunds’)

The cultivar ‘Louis Edmunds’ of Baker’s Manzanita (Arctostaphylos bakeri) is one of the most vivid manzanitas available, with leathery gray-green leaves and bright pink blooms. The 6 ft. (1.8 m) tall and 4 ft. (1.2 m) broad evergreen shrub is beautiful to behold. The glossy green leaves contrast with the brilliant pink blooms.

Greenleaf Manzanita (Arctostaphylos patula)

The greenleaf manzanita (Arctostaphylos patula) is a low-branching groundcover that grows in the landscape. The round, glossy, evergreen leaves are 2.3 inches (6 cm) long and urn-shaped white to pink blooms with huge black drupes 0.39 inches (1 cm) broad make this plant stand out.

Carmel Sur Manzanita (Arctostaphylos edmundsii ‘Carmel Sur’)

The Carmel Sur manzanita cultivar is a low-growing shrub with thick leaves and a spreading growth habit. It is native to the Carmel Sur area. The evergreen plant is particularly well suited for embellishing a full-sun flowering evergreen ground cover. Beautiful light pink blooms bloom in late winter, giving the area a cheerful look. The plant grows to be 1 foot (0.3 meters) tall and 6 feet (1.8 meters) broad.

Manzanita Tree Care

In well-draining, sandy soil, grow a manzanita tree in full sun to partial shade. The roots must be able to develop extensively in order for the plant to survive. During the summer, only water the bushes once a month. It’s best to avoid fertilizing the tree. To eliminate lower branches and dead or diseased ones, prune in late winter.

How to Germinate Manzanita Seeds

Because the seeds must be fire treated, manzanita trees are difficult to grow from seed. Planting the seeds right in the ground might help them to germinate. Next, cover the region with a 3″ to 4″ (7.5 – 10 cm) layer of light flammable stuff, such as pine needles, leaves, or paper. Then place the seed in the ground and wait for it to sprout the next spring.

Where to Plant Manzanita Tree

In an open area, place a manzanita seedling with deep roots. Full sun with some afternoon shade is the optimum planting location. Make certain that the site is well-draining since water should have an chance to run off. At least 10 feet (3 meters) away from a structure, plant the manzanita tree.

How to Plant Manzanita Seedlings

Seedlings are the fastest and simplest way to grow a manzanita tree. Dig a hole that is twice as big as the root ball, but not too deep. Make sure the roots are not curling and are untangled. Next, set the root ball of the young manzanita tree 1 inch (2.5 cm) above ground level. Lastly, press down on the hole to expel any air pockets.

After planting, thoroughly water a newly-planted manzanita tree. Then continue to water for four weeks. A thick layer of mulch around the base is also a good idea. When watering the tree, this assists to retain moisture, keep the earth cool, and reduce splashing leaves.

Growing Manzanita Shrubs in Containers

Planters are an excellent place to grow manzanita bushes. Make sure the pot is big enough for the roots to develop by using rich potting soil. The root ball should be one-quarter the size of the container, with drainage holes. When the top 3″ (7.5 cm) of soil is dry, water it.

Container-grown manzanitas need more care than ground-grown manzanitas. As a result, you should apply organic fertilizer every spring. When the shrub outgrows the container, you’ll have to repot it as well.

How to Water Manzanita Tree

It’s vital to recall that mature manzanita trees, which need little moisture, are well-suited to dry summers. As a result, in the summer, you don’t have to water them very often; only once every month is common. Water the shrub early in the morning or late in the evening if there is a drought.

You should be careful not to splash water from the soil onto the manzanita tree when you water it on rare occasions. Fungal infections may be spread to leaves by water splashing onto them from the ground.

Top manzanita care tip: Never allow a manzanita tree to flourish where there is standing water.

Manzanita Tree Fertilization

Manzanita trees prefer weak soil and don’t need nutrients or soil changes to survive. Fertilizing the plants will cause them to grow too quickly, making them vulnerable to several diseases and stresses, so manzanitas are usually slow-growing trees.

How to Prune Manzanita Tree

Air circulation, display of the lovely red branch system, and removal of dead wood are all benefits of pruning a manzanita tree. First, in the winter, you may cut off some lower limbs to reveal the lovely twisting stems. Older branches that are shedding bark should also be pruned.

After the shrub has finished blooming, you may encourage bushier foliage development by removing new growth. Next, from the stem ends, just clip off a few leaves.

Manzanita Tree Propagation

The simplest way to establish additional manzanita trees is via root cutting. Between March and May, you should take 6 to 8 inch (15 to 20 cm) cuttings. The previous year’s growth should be 2″ (5 cm) on the terminal shoots. Next, insert the severed end into a moist, well-draining potting mix (equal parts sand and peat are ideal). Sprinkle with rooting hormone.

Spray the potting mixture every day to keep it moist. Covering the severed stem with a plastic bag can also help to increase humidity. You may move the immature manzanita tree to the ground after roots form. Remember to plant it in a drainage area that isn’t hampered by nearby native trees. The roots don’t have to struggle with them.

How to Control Pests Affecting Manzanita Tree Growth

The most prevalent pest attacking the growth of these lovely trees’ leaves is manzanita leaf gall aphids. A manzanita tree can be affected by armored scale insects, mealybugs, the western tussock moth, and flathead borers. Healthy trees, on the other hand, are generally resistant to pest damage when they get enough water and no fertilizer.

Reddish-brown pod-shaped galls that appear on leaves are a sign of aphid damage on a manzanita tree. The aesthetics of a shrub may be affected by these reddish growths. The plant’s health, however, will not be severely harmed. Hold off watering your manzanita tree throughout the summer months, and only water it when the ground is dry during the winter months to avoid pests attacking it. Avoid any fertilization or pruning procedures that encourage new development.

How to Control Diseases Affecting Manzanita Tree Growth

Foliar fungal diseases such as black spot can affect manzanita tree foliage. Canker diseases, bacterial leaf spot, and blight can all harm the shrub if the environment is correct. Brown spots on leaves are a common sign that your prized manzanita tree is afflicted by disease. Spotted leaves, which are more prevalent on lower leaves, first come in spring before new growth.

Avoiding overhead watering is the greatest way to avoid fungal or bacterial leaf diseases on a manzanita tree. Don’t allow water to spray onto leaves when you watering the plant; always aim water at the root region on the ground. Bacterial or fungal diseases may be prevented from reaching leaves by a layer of mulch. You may also trim the lower branches to prevent leaves from growing near the ground.

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