Dwarf Clusia

Clusia rosea 'Nana'

Dwarf clusia is a low-growing, spreading shrub with unusual foliage that can be used as an easy-care, drought-tolerant ground cover, border or accent plant.

Dwarf clusia foliaqe detail

A semi-succulent that doesn't take much in the way of care, this pretty small-leafed clusia thrives in hot sun and adds attractive texture around the base of larger plants with bigger foliage.

Its thick, bright green, paddle-shaped leaves have an informal look and work best in casual landscapes.

It's possible for clusias to flower - but they rarely do so except in the warmest areas of Zone 10B or if we've had an overall warm winter.

Flowers are pretty little things...pale pink/white and appear in summer. In general, though, this shrub is used as more of a unique texture plant.

White flower

There are several types of clusia - the largest, clusia rosea (or "Pitch Apple"), as well as the smaller-leaf guttifera are both covered under Clusia in the Large Shrubs section.

Plant specs

This shrub is a moderate grower that prefers full to part sun, though it will grow in partial shade. The plant usually stays 2 feet or less and spreads out 2 to 3 feet.

Clusias are salt-tolerant shrubs that thrive in Zone 10, though they can be kept in a container in Zone 9B and moved in during cold weather.

These are drought-tolerant plants once they're established, so plant in an area that drains quickly after a rain.

Plant care

Add composted cow manure to the hole when you plant to enrich the soil around the plant's root ball.

No trimming is needed other than an occasional shaping trim.

Watering on a regular basis with time to let the shrub dry out in between waterings is best.

Drought-tolerant or no, most plants look better with regular irrigation, correctly timed to meet each individual plant's needs. This is a good reason to match up plants in the same garden bed with similar watering requirements.

Fertilize 3 times a year - spring, summer and fall - with a high-quality granular fertilizer.

Plant spacing

Bush form

Place these shrub 2 to 2-1/2 feet apart. Come away from the house or a fence about 1-1/2 to 2 feet.

This clusia variety makes an excellent container plant and can even be trained as a bonsai.

Landscape uses for dwarf clusia

  • groundcover shrub
  • bordering a sidewalk or drive
  • around a landscape boulder
  • along a low porch or deck
  • front-of-the-border plant
  • foundation shrub under low windows
  • low shrub for mobile home planter box
  • surrounding a taller accent plant or small palm tree
  • in a container or planter


COMPANION PLANT SUGGESTIONS: Pair with other drought-tolerant plants such as desert rose, coontie, muhly grass, crown of thorns, frangipani, yucca and agave.

Other shrubs you might like: Green Island Ficus, Carissa 

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