Any Experience with Manzanita (Arctostaphylos)?

I’ve recently received a few small manzanita saplings and seeds from a friend. I believe they are most likely Eastwood’s manzanita (Arctostaphylos glandulosa).

I’ve read what I can about the species (not much out there): well draining rocky soil, seems to prefer acidic soil, fire germinating (that will be a new, fun experience), seedlings can be transplanted but not larger plants. But that’s about it.

I’ve long admired these trees (and they’re cousin the madrona - but especially manzanita for their smaller leaves) and marveled at what they could look like as bonsai with the live red vein and amazing deadwood. They are stunning plants. I’ve personally never seen any used in bonsai, I’m guessing because they’re supposed to be very hard to germinate, slow growing, and don’t transplant well when they get larger than 1-gallon size.

Any experience, tips, or resources anyone has, I’d really appreciate it.

Greg Brenden (I think is his name) seems to have figured out Manzanita. He used to post to online forums, but I haven’t heard much from him lately. That said, it looks like Manzanita are possible.

Thanks. I found a few threads on other sites that were a few years old, but didn’t get much. I’ll try some other forum searches.

I know that they are slow growing, and hard to find. Gorgeous color on the wood though.

They grow all over the place in the colder parts of Arizona. I get to see them when I go trout fishing.

I’ve been growing Manzanita from cuttings for about 6 years now, I have about 8 different varieties. I also have one collected tree which I’ve had for a couple years. A lot of experimenting for me, but I love Manzanita and i’m determined to figure them out.

A few things i’ve noticed about Manzanita.

Their root system is very fine, similar to Satsuki, they will almost kill themselves off in a container as the root system get’s so dense, water and oxygen cannot get to the soil mass directly underneath the trunk. I’m experimenting with different mixes and so far i’ve had the best success with Kanuma and pumice mixes. Obviously I need to keep experimenting with soil. Manzanita like acidic conditions too.

If you’re going to collect, try and find a pocket tree with lots of roots. However, certain varieties are hardier than others. There’s a local nursery here called Las Pilitas, which sells many different varieties. I’d recommend the variety- Baby Bear, it creates a larger sized tree, it’s hard, beautiful purple/brown smooth bark, small leaves and beautiful pink flowers. Manzanita are very easy to take from cutting- I use perlite and green house for high success. You can twist these up, somewhat similar to the way you would a shimpaku grown from cutting. However, once you’ve added movement it cannot be further bent, and you must bend when the new growth is still soft.

Ryan mentioned once in a Q&A that the lack of proper mycorrhizal relationships with Manzanita may be a reason for lack of success. I believe he suggested that we may need to grow a second plant in the container along with the manzanita to create the proper mycelium relationships. I plan to experiment a bit with this in the future.


This is awesome. Thanks. Have you tried growing from seeds at all?

Apologize, I have not.