- Author: Polly Nelson
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Polly Nelson UCCE Master Gardener
Planting Zone: Sunset 14-24
Size: 3-6 feet tall, 5-7 feet wide spreading mound.
Bloom season: Most abundant in spring, intermittent year-round.
Exposure: Sun to partial shade in hot inland areas.
Pruning needs: Benefits from regular pinching to encourage bushy growth. Pruning back to the crown annually prevents woody tissue buildup.
Water needs: Low to occasional once established.
Narrative: This perennial is a California native shrub with red tubular flowers that attract hummingbirds, butterflies and other pollinators. The evergreen leaves are green to yellow-green, about 1 inch long and half-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 cold sensitive but tolerates occasional light frosts (above 26 degrees F) 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 (more erect and compact than Island Snapdragon) and Boca Rosa (produces many blossoms). It is native to islands off the coast of California, San Clemente, Catalina and Guadalupe Islands. It prefers the coastal climate, but will do well anywhere except high mountains and desert areas. California natives generally need 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 it away from the plant crown. Make sure the root ball is moist when planting and never let the soil get soggy. A synonym for this plant is Gambelia speciosa.