Desperate for help re Calycanthus occidentalis shrub

Los Altos, CA

I am trying to decide whether to plant this shrub partially under an oak tree (my gardener's idea) where it would get partial sun to full shade. I have researched this site and one other and have seen some pretty ugly pictures and some very pretty ones! Also saw a pic of a really large totally frozen one. We live in the in Los Altos in the Bay Area.

I also read where it is poisonous (my cat's name is Tess and she loves to chew).

What I have in there now are 3 beautiful deep blue ceanothus with stunning bare trunks/branches below and previously beautiful foliage on top. Unfortunately, as usual, the oak tree has spread and now there is too much shade, so the flowers are struggling to bloom and the leaves look a bit scrappy too. Maybe what I really need are some ideas for great shade plants -- --- feel free offer your advice!

Many thanks!


Carlsbad, CA(Zone 10b)

Here's the link to the plant in Dave's Garden Plant Files: http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/59489/ . If the details in it don't answer your questions I'd suggest consulting with a nursery in your area that sells native plants. Or you could contact a native plant society in your area, too.

As far as it being poisonous, the Plant Files indicates it is, but as to how much who knows. Perhaps you could use Google to find more info about that, but I'd check several sites since they sometimes vary. If you have cat insurance you might also check with them. I've seen posters in my vet's office printed by the animal insurance companies that show the most common dangerous things that pets eat, and I'd imagine they'd have a poisonous plant list, too.

Fairfax, CA(Zone 9b)

Hi, There are other shrubs you can try. I happen to think Calycanthus occidentalis is very pretty, but Ribes sanguineum (Pink Flowering Currant) has very pretty pink flowers and isn't poisonous. There's also Rhamnus californica ( Coffeeberry) or Sambucus mexicana (Blue Elderberry) that you can have a look at. Good luck.

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