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Arboretum Spotlight: Flannel bush needs no water

San Gabriel flannel bush is a large and colorful native shrub that, once established, needs no irrigation at all.
San Gabriel flannel bush is a large and colorful native shrub that, once established, needs no irrigation at all.

This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum’s “40 Plants You (Probably) Have Never Heard of – But Will Love,” 40 can’t-fail, easy-care, low-water plants well adapted to our region but hard to find.

San Gabriel flannel bush

Fremontodendron X ‘San Gabriel’

Size: Up to 18 feet tall by 12 feet wide

Bloom season: Large 4-inch yellow flowers in spring

Exposure: Full sun

Pruning needs: None except to shape as desired; beware hairs that can irritate skin.

Water needs: Absolutely no water once established

Snapshot: Any time of year is flannel season for this California native bush. This spectacular and fast-growing large shrub has upward-arching branches that are covered in colorful yellow flowers in spring. The lobed leaves have an attractive maplelike shape with brownish hairs. (Watch out for that fuss – it can prickle.) Flannel bush needs reasonable drainage – it won’t tolerate standing water – and is perfect for the ultra-low water garden. Once established (after two years), it needs no irrigation at all. Now, that’s a water saver!

For more on “40 Plants,” click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu.

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