Botanical Name: E. farinosa

Category: sub-shrub

Divisible: No

Common Name: Brittlebush

Evergreen: can be

Propagation: Seed

Family: California Native Plant

Invasive: No

Size: 2′-4′ tall and wide

Due to its little or no water and near zero maintenance requirements, Encelia is an excellent xeriscape plant for your water-conservation garden. It generally reaches around three feet tall and naturally forms a symmetrical globular form. The fragrant silvery leaves are soft and fuzzy, and work well in fresh floral arrangements.

The golden yellow flowers bloom in the spring -opening first on the warm south-facing sides of the bushes and blooming gradually moves up and over the bush, ending with the north-facing branches. The plant prefers a southern exposure and near-dry soils.

Growing Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) from Seed

Brittlebush seeds can germinate in nature almost any time of year if there is sufficient rain. These seeds experience what is referred to as ongoing germination. They contain many inhibitors which are leached away over time causing sporadic germination –  sometimes for years.

Direct Sowing:

  • Soak in warm water for 30 minutes prior to planting.
  • Surface sow as they need light to germinate. Press gently into soil

and do not cover.

  • Water daily until first germination flush – about 10 days.
  • After that soil can be allowed to dry out between waterings.
  • Space plants 3’ apart.

Indoor Start:

  • Cold stratification may help germination rate. Dampen sand, soil or paper towel and add the seeds in. Place this mixture in the refrigerator for 30-60 days.
  • Soak seeds in warm water for 30 minutes prior to planting.
  • Sow seeds in well draining mix (lots of Perlite). Press the seeds into the soil but do not cover.
  • Keep the trays continually moist and warm until germination. Average first germination flush is 10 days.
  • Once there are seedlings allow soil to dry out between waterings as they can have problems with damping off.
  • Divide and repot when the seedling produces its true leaves a few weeks after germinating, this way you are unlikely to damage the delicate taproot. 

Care and Maintenance:

  • Brittlebush requires full sun and sandy, rocky soil – not clay.
  • Brittlebush has shallow roots but a long taproot that makes transplanting difficult.
  • Seed is spread prolifically by the wind.

Buy Brittlebush seeds from my Etsy shop

Practical advice from a home gardener

I am Deborah Valiquet – artist and obsessive gardener. Here you will find my advice for creating a garden oasis in the high desert. I’ll share my experiences – successes and failures over the last 10+ years. 

Even if your garden isn’t in the high desert you will find lots of valuable information here. Let’s dig in!