in Tucson, Phoenix,
Arizona and California

Gardening in Tucson, Phoenix, Arizona and California

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Growing Encelia farinosa: Brittlebush

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Form: Shrub.
Leaf retention: Winter evergreen but drought- and frost-deciduous.
Growth rate: Rapid.
Mature Size: 3-5' high and wide.
Flowers: Yellow rays, with orange to brown centers, on tall stalks above leaves.
Bloom: Mid-fall, through winter, to mid-spring.
Fruit: Tufted seed which is dispersed by the wind.
Leaves: Triangular to oval, silvery blue-green, fine hairs.
Stems: No thorns, brittle and easily broken. An aromatic resin exudes from broken stem ends.
Roots: Wide and shallow, along with a deep taproot. This plant is very difficult to transplant.
Wildlife: Attracts bees and butterflies, especially when nothing else around is blooming. It is browsed by deer and bighorn sheep, but is not a useful forage for cattle.
Toxic / Danger: No.
Origin: California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Mexico.

Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 7-10 in arid regions. May die to the ground during a freeze and grow back from its roots in the spring.
Heat tolerant: Yes.
Drought tolerant: Yes.
Sun: Full sun.
Water once established: Monthly. Overwatering causes excessive growth.
Soil: Very well drained, dry, low organic content, pH 6.6-8.5 (neutral to alkaline).
Prune: After flowering, trim tall flower stalks down to leaf level. Deadheading spent flowers reduces reseeding. The plant can be cut to near ground level in mid-spring to avoid a shaggy summer appearance.
Litter: Low except for pruning.
Propagation: Seed. This plant reseeds freely.
Uses: Ornamental, xeric garden, erosion control on level ground and modest slopes. The aromatic resin is burned as incense, and its aroma has been compared to that of frankincense. It was used as chewing gum, a glue, and to waterproof containers.

This plant is a member of the Aster family (Asteraceae).

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Latest update: February, 2019.

Encelia farinosa: Brittlebush - flowers

Encelia farinosa: Brittlebush