Caring For Your Manzanita

Whether you are considering purchasing manzanita or have already placed your order, it helps to know how best to prepare and maintain your manzanita!

For the Tank

If you are planning to use your manzanita piece in a tank, whether aquarium, vivarium, or paludarium, here are some things to keep in mind!

  • Sanitization

Although we clean each branch prior to shipping, we do not pre-boil or otherwise sanitize the wood. We can't control what might happen to the piece during transit, and don't want to make claims we can't guarantee. If you are concerned about introducing driftwood into your tank, it is best to first boil or bake it. We suggest you boil the piece fully submerged for at least 20 minutes, or bake it in an oven at roughly 200 degrees for 25-30 minutes. 

Our larger pieces might not fit in your pots/pans or oven; you can place your piece in a bathtub and carefully pour very hot/ boiling water over it to achieve a similar cleansing effect. 

  • Sinking (Aquariums)

Manzanita is known for being able to self-sink or stay submerged once it is waterlogged. Note that our pieces are dry when they ship, and will have some buoyancy when they arrive. Each piece must be waterlogged before it will stay sunk - and this waterlogging process can take several days to weeks. Boiling your driftwood will accelerate the process notably. If boiling is not an option, the piece can be placed in a large tub to soak; for best effect, the piece should be fully submerged while soaking, not floating at the top. You may find it helpful to weigh the wood down with a heavier item. If you do not have a dedicated separate soaking tank and need to add the piece to your tank quickly, you can weigh your manzanita down with a rock or other heavy hardscape element and place it as desired in your tank.

  • Tannin Release (Aquariums)

Tannins are molecular compounds present in many plants - from wood to tea leaves to wine grapes - that will slowly leech out and discolor the water in your tank. Manzanita wood has less tannins than most species of wood, but nevertheless does contain some tannins. Boiling will help accelerate the release of tannins from your driftwood; just soaking your wood may take significantly longer. Whether you choose to soak or boil, be sure to change the water as you notice it becoming discolored! Carefully preparing your wood to allow for release of tannins prior to adding it to your tank will help keep your water clear.

For the Home

If you are planning on using manzanita for decor, here are some maintenance considerations.

  • Sealing

While many species of wood benefit from a coating of sealant, manzanita's inherent durability makes preservation less of a necessity and more of a personal stylistic choice. We love the natural look of unfinished manzanita - but you may prefer to add a topical coating. Remember that our driftwood has been sitting out, fully exposed to the elements, for years prior to being cleaned! 

  • Cleaning

We find that compressed air is an easy way to remove dust from our manzanita, as it can reach deep down into the fissures. You may prefer to pressure-wash your piece, especially if you are displaying outdoors - start on a low setting or with a wider angle nozzle to avoid overworking the wood's surface. If you live in an area with clean air quality, you may eventually notice small specks of lichen appearing on your branches - dry manzanita is an excellent base for lichen spores and air plants! If these are unwelcome, you can gently scrub them away with a stiff wire brush.

  • Pesticides

We do not treat our wood with pesticides, and you may be wondering if your driftwood decor will attract insects. We cannot speak to the preferences of all insects, but we haven't had any issues with pests taking up residence in or on our manzanita - and our rural home is full of driftwood! Assuming you do not already have uninvited critters in your home, our dry manzanita should not attract them. We have, however, found that local lizards and birds enjoy sunning themselves and perching on pieces left outdoors!