Fremontodendron californicum, commonly known as flannel bush, is a beautiful native plant of Soutern California. Its fuzzy leaves give it its name, flannel, but don’t let that homey name fool you – not only is this plant a visual stunner, but those fuzzy leaves will also irritate the skin and eyes. Look, but only touch if you know what you’re doing. Once established, their drought tolerant qualities make them an excellent choice for the water wise garden. In fact, summer watering will often even kill this plant, so make sure that irrigation zone if off when the heat rolls around.


These beauties natural range is in the foothills of the Sierras, the Coastal Ranges, and in our local Transverse Ranges. True locals that are made for our area. They are fast growing and have eye-catching, large yellow flowers that bloom in spring and summer. Once they are established in the landscape, after a year or so, turn the irrigation off for them.


The striking yellow flowers of Fremontodendron californicum, the Flannel Bush 


Landscape Planting – Fremontodendron californicum Basics 


Botanical Name: Fremontodendron californicum

Common Name: Flannel Bush

Type: perennial shrub

Native Range: California

Size: 6 to 20 feet tall, up to 20 feet wide – there are cultivars with smaller sizes that fit well in various landscapes

Bloom Time: Spring and summer

Bloom Color: Yellow and sometimes orange

Sun: Full sun

Growth Rate: Fast

Water & Soil: Once the plant is established, no supplemental irrigation. They require sandy, well draining soil

Maintenance: They are best when left alone. Moderate pruning can be done after flowering. Do not cut into the woody sections of the plant.

Suggested Use: Hedges, specimen plants, pollinator garden (butterflies and bees)



Flannel bush’s approximate natural range


For landscape planting, flannel bush grows needs full sun. 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.


Our designers can take a look at your property and see if flannel bush’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. Flannel bush makes an excellent addition to colorful gardens, with their eye-catching bright yellow flowers. They are known as one of the most beautiful native flowering plants. Their fuzzy leaves, while visually inviting, will irritate the skin and eyes, thus it is best to avoid planting them near walkways and high foot traffic areas. Creative Concepts Landscape will help to determine the best location on your property, or create the conditions to promote a healthy, beautiful garden.


Flannel bush has low water requirements once established. In fact, they should not receive any supplemental irrigation once they are fully established (usually about a year after planting). They are native to our region, thus their needs match the natural rhythms of our climate. Although it might seem counterintuitive, watering them during the heat of summer can actually kill them, so make sure there is no irrigation in their area.


It is best to plant them some ten feet or so away from an area of the landscape that does receive regular water. Their roots will spread out to the moist soil and supply enough water for them to thrive. Until they are established, and their roots have spread, they will need occasional supplemental water. 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 aloe’s needs.


Flannel bush needs well-draining soils, which much of the soil in Southern California has. They also do not need nutrient fertilizers. Creative Concepts Landscape will determine what conditions would be best for flannel bush in your landscape and make the necessary additions or changes.



An orange flowered variety of flannel bush. The hairs on the leaves and stems act as irritants to the skin and eyes. Look, but be careful when touching.


Pruning & Maintenance 


Flannel bush has low maintenance needs. It is mostly best to leave it alone, once it is established. Pruning, if absolutely necessary (such as removing broken branches) should be done in fall after the flowering season. Again, flannel bush’s leaves have small fuzzy hairs that cause irritation. The hairs will even collect on your clothes and cause irritation after you walk away from the bush. Cover up and be careful when pruning.


These plants are drought tolerant, however providing supplemental water for these plants, especially while they are becoming established in the landscape, is often 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. Again, and we cannot stress this enough, once flannel bush is established, do not water them.


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.


Flannel bush can grow quite tall – up to 20 feet. Some cultivars have smaller growth habits. Creative Concepts Landscape will happily determine what would work in your landscape.


Landscape Uses 


Flannel bush has some of the most striking yellow flowers under the sun. They can fit within many different landscape aesthetics, from Mediterranean gardens, chaparral gardens, butterfly gardens, and even desert themed gardens as a focal point. They can grow quite large under ideal conditions, larger than most landscapes can accommodate, thus Creative Concepts Landscape will be happy to discuss their potential in your garden and recommend a smaller cultivar of flannel bush is necessary. Creative Concepts Landscape gets many requests for garden installations, of which flannel bush can be a beautiful addition. Our team of designers and technicians has decades of experience designing and installing 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.


Stunning flowers in full bloom. Flannel bush will make an beautiful centerpiece in your garden.



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