Caring for Buckwheat During a Dry January

If you picked up a four-inch California buckwheat at A Buckwheat in Every Garden event last fall, hopefully you planted it and watered it deeply, then spread a light layer of mulch to keep the soil moist.

Thea Gavin and Connie Bowen plant a two-gallon California buckwheat ‘Dana Point’ at an October Buckwheat in Every Garden event in Orange, California.

We received plentiful rain in November and December. However, except for a fraction of an inch of rain in mid-January, most Orange County gardens have been cool and dry in the new year.

Sunny January day in the California garden. (Elizabeth Wallace)

It is time to check your newly-installed buckwheat to see if it needs water. If the plant is dry a few inches down, give it a deep drink using a watering can or hose with a rain nozzle to simulate rainfall.

Watering a newly-installed buckwheat. (Elizabeth Wallace)

Native plants enjoy water during the winter rainy season, and sometimes when we have a dry month like this, we may need to add supplemental water to ensure the root ball doesn’t dry out while the plant is in its establishment period.

California buckwheat. Photo by Laura Camp.

It takes about a year, sometimes more, for a California native plant to become established in the garden. Once the plant is established, it will only need monthly watering at most.  Below are a few photos of established California native plants that are flowering in the January native garden.

Verbena ‘De la mina’ (Verbena lilacina). (Elizabeth Wallace)

Hummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea). (Elizabeth Wallace)

Dancing tassels (Ribes malvaceum). (Elizabeth Wallace)

Sunset manzanita (Arctostaphylos ‘Sunset’). (Elizabeth Wallace)

Lester Rowntree manzanita (Arctostaphylos ‘Lester Rowntree’). (Elizabeth Wallace)

Whether it’s wet or dry, keep an eye on your new buckwheat. Send photos and let me know how your buckwheat is growing.

A pair of cactus wrens enjoy the buckwheat at the Dana Point Headlands in January. (Elizabeth Wallace)