|Painted admiral on California buckwheat at the CA Native Plant Demonstration Garden.|
A great addition to the beneficial insect garden is Eriogonum fasciculatum/California buckwheat. This buckwheat is a vigorous butterfly and pollinator plant and very drought tolerant here in Sacramento. At the California Native Plant Demonstration Garden here in Sacramento, they grow in full sun and are located in well-drained soil (will tolerate clay soils, too). They receive only water from the fall and winter rains. We planted them back in 1997 and they are still growing as robustly as ever.
The flowers start opening in spring, are in full bloom by summer, then turn pink, to finally rust-colored in fall. In the winter, it is cut back almost to the ground, and it’s back up to 4 feet tall and wide by the following summer.
My man Bert at Las Pilitas Nursery calls California buckwheat the pillar of the butterfly community. But it is also a key plant for the bee population. In summer, as you pass by the buckwheats, all you can hear is the hum of dozens of European honeybees, native bees, bumblebees, and wasps. In this day of collapsing bee colonies, this is a must-have plant for a healthy and vibrant garden.