How to Grow Fremontodendron – Flannel Bush

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Fremontodendron–commonly called flannel bush–is a fast-growing irregularly shaped evergreen shrub with brilliant yellow or orange saucerlike flowers in spring. Fremontodendron has dark green leathery leaves that are grayish and felt-like underneath.

Fremontodendron, also called Fremontia, is drought-tolerant once established. It is a good choice for native western gardens. It should be planted where the spring flower displant can be seen.

Fremontodendron are shallow-rooted and should be staked while young. Fremontodendron is short-lived, about ten to twenty years.

Fremontodendron is a genus of just two species. Fremontodendron is native to dry woods and mountainsides in the southwest United States and northern Mexico.

Fremontodendron californicum
Fremontodendron californicum tree with large rich yellow flowers with orange, coppery and reddish margins

Get to know Fremontodendron 

  • Plant type: Evergreen shrub or small tree
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 9 and 10
  • Hardiness: Can tolerate below freezing temperatures for a short period
  • Height and width: Grow 6 to 10 feet (2-6m) tall and 12 to 20 feet (4m-6m wide depending on the variety.
  • Foliage: Rounded or lobed leathery dark green leaves, softly hairy beneath; shoots are densely hairy.
  • Flowers: Showy briliant yellow or orange saucer-like flowers
  • Fruit: Flowers are followed by persistent conical seed capsules covered with bristly, rust-colored hairs; the seed capsules will irritate skin.
  • Bloom time: Spring
  • Uses: Shrub or mixed border; specimen plant; grow against a wall
  • Common name: Flannel bush 
  • Botanical name: Fremontodendron
  • Family name: Sterculiaceae 
  • Origin: Dry canyons of Southwest United States and Mexico

Where to plant Fremontodendron

  • Plant Fremontodendron in full sun.
  • Grow Fremontodendron in moderately fertile, dry but well-drained neutral or alkaline soil.
  • Fremontodendron is completely drought tolerant when established; it will accept occasional water during their normally dry period in summer only if drainage is excellent.
  • Shelter Fremontodendron from cold, drying winds.
  • Fremontodendron tend to be short-lived.

When to plant Fremontodendron

  • Plant container-grown Fremontodendron in spring or autumn.

Planting and spacing Fremontodendron

  • Space Fremontodendron 12 to 20 feet apart.

How to water and feed Fremontodendron

  • Water Fremontodendron unitl established; once established it will tolerate very little summer water.
  • Fertilize Fremontodendron light wiht an all-purose organic fertilizer in spring.

Fremontodendron care

  • Fremontodendron has shallow roots so plants should be staked when young.
  • Fremontodendron can be wall trained to show off its handsome foliage and flowers.
  • Pruning is minimal except for wall-trained specimens.

Fremontodendron pests and diseases

  • Fremontodendron is susceptible to root rot and stem rot in containers.
  • Fremontodendron can be attacked by scale insects.
Fremontodendron in bloom
Fremontodendron in bloom

Fremontodendron propagation

  • Sow seeds in warm soil in spring. Soak seeds overnight before sowing.
  • Root greenwood cuttins in early summer or semi-ripe cuttings in late summer.

Fremontodendron varieties to grow

  • Fremontodoendron. ‘California Glory’. Hybrid between F. californicum and F. mexicanum. Upright then spreading evergreen shrub with dark lobed leaves; flowers to 3 inches across, rich yellow inside, tinged red outside; heavy bloomer over long a period; grows to 20 feet tall and 12 feet wide.  
  • F. californicum. Common flannel bush. Upright evergreen or semi-evergreen with round dark green leaves; shallow saucer-shaped lemon yellow, 1-1 ½-inch flowers that tend to bloom all at once; roundish unlobed or three-lobed leaves, 1 inch long; grows to 20 feet tall and 12 feet wide.
  • F. ‘Ken Taylor’. Spreading evergreen shrube with round or lobe dark green leaves with shallow, orange-yellow flower to 6 feet tall.
  • F. mexicanum. Southern flannel bush. Upright evergreen or semievergreen shrubs grows to 20 feet tall and 12 feet wide; brilliant orange-tinted blossoms to 2 ½ inches across; blooms less profusely than F. californicum, but flowers appear over a longer period. 
  • F. ‘San Gabriel’. Resembles ‘California Glory’ with deeply cut (maplelike) leaves. 

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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