Lemonade berry is the common name for Rhus integrifolia. Lemonade berry is a beautiful native of our region. This evergreen shrub sometimes, usually closer to the coast, grows into a small tree. It is often found in coastal canyons below elevations of 900 meters, where it can dominate entire hillsides.


This Southern California native is often lush and green year-round. Once it is established, you can skip any supplemental watering, even during summer (although occasional supplemental water can keep it even greener).


An upright specimen of Rhus integrifolia



Landscape Planting – Rhus integrifolia basics 


Botanical Name: Rhus integrifolia

Common Name: Lemonade Berry

Type: Evergreen, woody shrub, perennial

Native Range: Southern and Centra coastal California (grows well inland from 5 – 10 miles of the coast)

Height: 3 to 30 feet (a wide range that often depends on age and proximity to the coast)

Spread: 2 to 20 feet (again, a wide range that often depends on age and proximity to the coast)

Bloom Time: Winter, Spring

Bloom Description: White, pink

Sun: Part shade to full sun

Water: once established (around one year after planting), very low water requirements

Maintenance: Low

Suggested Use: Slope stabilization, bird gardens, hedges

Flower: small but beautiful



Small, white flower cluster on the Lemonade Berry


For landscape planting, lemonade berry tends grows well in partially shaded areas to full sun areas. Our landscape designers at Creative Concepts Landscape will be happy to look over your property and determine areas that are optimal for these types of plants. Creative Concepts Landscape can also build shade wooden structures, such as pergolas and arbors, which complement the earthy tones of lemonade berry beautifully.


Lemonade berry attracts beneficial local wildlife, such as pollinators and birds. These plants are also deer resistant, making them a great choice in the foothills where deer damage is more common.


Our designers can take a look at your property and see if lemonade berry’s needs can be met. We create a design plan for all of our consultations to determine what plants and needs match each individual property. Lemonde berry makes an excellent addition to native gardens, especially chaparral. They fit well with toyon, oak trees, and salvias. Again, Creative Concepts Landscape will help to determine the best location on your property, or create the conditions to promote a healthy, beautiful garden.


Lemonde berry has low water requirements, perfect for the drought tolerant garden. In the first year after planting, while lemonade berry is establishing itself in the landscape, they will need irrigation systems or regular hand watering. Creative Concepts Landscape has installed many irrigation systems (drip and sprinkler), and we would be happy to take a look at your property to come up with a design that could meet lemonade berry’s needs. Once these plants are established (usually around one year after planting) the irrigation can be reduced, and often even turned off completely.


These plants also prefer well-draining soils. Most of the natural soil in Southern California is somewhat sandy, well-draining soil.



The satisfyingly leathery, waxy leaves of Lemonade Berry


Pruning & Maintenance 


Lemonde berry is fairly low in maintenance needs. In many cases, providing supplemental water for these plants, while they are becoming established, is the highest maintenance requirement. Creative Concepts Landscape has been installing irrigation systems for over twenty years. We will be happy to schedule a consultation and come up with an irrigation system plan and install it. Creative Concepts landscape also repairs and refurbishes existing irrigation systems, so they are in optimal, efficient condition.


Outside of maintaining an irrigation system for lemonade berry while it is establishing, the plant can be pruned, as needed, any time of the year. These plants take periodic pruning very well and can be shaped into a hedge or tree-like form.


Creative Concepts Landscape has options for maintenance schedules. Many of our clients have us maintain their property weekly or two times a month, however we also offer periodic cleanups. These cleanups range from four times a year, twice a year, and sometimes once a year. We will be happy to talk with you and determine a maintenance/cleanup schedule that fits your property needs.


A mourning cloak butterfly on Rhus integrifolia. These plants attract local pollinators such as beneficial insects and birds.


Landscape Uses 


For landscape planting, lemonade berry grows well in a variety of locations and is very useful for slope stabilization. Creative Concepts Landscape gets many requests for erosion control throughout our hill foothills area. Our team of designers and technicians has decades of experience designing and installing slope stabilizing features such as terraces with planter gardens.


Creative Concepts Landscape creates a landscape plan and design for your specific property characteristics along with your wants. Our highly experienced designers will be able to see what plant types and layout will complement your landscape’s existing features to come up with a planting design plan.




Thank you for joining us again in this week’s horticultural adventures. Please come back next Wednesday for out next blog post, and as always, contact us for all your landscape needs!


By Daniel Williams

Client Liaison for Creative Concepts Landscape