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This mallow is a pretty, tough California native

This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum’s “Garden Gems” series – 45 can’t-fail, easy-care, low-water plants well adapted to our region and that add sparkle to drought-tolerant landscapes.

Fremont’s bush mallow

Malacothamnus fremontii

Size: Up to 4 to 6 feet tall and wide, spreading with age.

Bloom season: Delicate pink flowers in summer.

Exposure: Sun or partial shade.

Pruning needs: Pinch growth when young to induce branching.

Water needs: Low water; once established, water deeply once a month if at all.

Snapshot: This local wildflower could be right at home in your garden. Native to Central California foothills on both sides of the Valley, this pretty but tough shrub can be found from Modesto to Sacramento. Evergreen, bush mallow features fuzzy gray-green foliage year round. In summer, it boasts abundant pale pink flowers that look like miniature hibiscus, a mallow cousin. Needing little or no irrigation once established, bush mallow works great in challenging areas to landscape such as steep banks. It forms a thicket over time.

For more on “Garden Gems,” click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu.

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