How to Prune California Flannelbush


California flannelbush (Fremontodendron californicum) is a native evergreen shrub that grows in rocky or gritty soil. The name flannelbush refers to the tiny hairs that cover the stems, leaves and seeds. The hairs can cause skin irritation. California flannelbush has a slender to spreading form with multiple stems and grows 10 to 15 feet tall. Bright yellow flowers in the spring are followed by black seeds in the fall. California flannelbush needs little pruning, which can be done anytime. Pruning in late fall or early winter will result in the least disruption of flowering.

Step 1

Wear gloves to prevent skin irritation from the tiny hairs on California flannelbush.

Step 2

Use hand pruners for limbs up to a half inch in diameter and lopping shears for limbs up to 1 inch in diameter. Cut limbs near a joint or bud at a 30-degree angle.

Step 3

Use the appropriate pruning tool to remove dead or diseased limbs. Dying or dead leaves, splits in bark or wood, oozing areas on the bark and cankers are signs of disease.

Step 4

Remove limbs that rub other limbs and damaged limbs with the correct pruning tool.

Step 5

Tip prune throughout the growing season by using hand pruners or your fingers to pinch the ends of soft new growth. This encourages the production of new shoots for a fuller bush.

Tips and Warnings

  • Wash your skin and clothes thoroughly after pruning California flannelbush to avoid skin irritation from the tiny hairs.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Hand pruners
  • Lopping shears


  • Marin County Extension: Fremontodendron Californica
  • Las Pilitas Nursery: How To Prune Native Plants

Who Can Help

  • California Gardens: Flannelbush
  • Yuruga: Pruning Native Plants
Keywords: prune California flannelbush, California flannelbush, prune Fremontodendron californica, Fremontodendron californica

About this Author

Melody Lee worked as a newspaper reporter, copywriter and editor for 5 years. In addition, she has edited magazine articles and books. Lee holds a degree in landscape design and is a Florida master gardener. She has more than 25 years of gardening experience, which includes working at nurseries and greenhouses.