How to Grow and Care for Coyote Bush (Baccharis pilularis)

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This evergreen, flowering shrub belongs to the Baccharis genus of shrubs. This genus is the largest in the daisy (Asteraceae) family, with more than 500 recognized species. Native to parts of the USA, this plant commonly grows in the wild, as a weed. 

This perennial, also known as the coyote brush, chaparral broom, or bush baccharis, is also grown as an ornamental, garden plant. Several cultivars are available, offering various characteristics of size, foliage color, and texture.


There is little information regarding the introduction of coyote bush outside its native regions. Other species in the genus were brought to diverse parts of the world as ornamental plants for botanical and private gardens. Some of these introductions have become invasive weeds.

Plant Facts

Scientific nameBaccharis pilularis
Common namesCoyote bush, coyote brush, chaparral broom, bush baccharis
Height3 to 9 feet (3 m)
WidthUp to 12 feet (3.6 m)
USDA Plant Hardiness ZoneZones 7 to 10
Native toWestern USA
Blooming seasonMid-summer to late summer
Flower colorswhite
Plant specific featuresnectar-rich flowers, excellent for pollinators

How to Plant and Grow a Coyote Bush

Baccharis pilularis grows wild at low elevations, on scrubland, or on coastal slopes. Cultivated varieties are suitable for growing around the world in their hardiness zones.

There are two main forms of the coyote bush, upright and low-growing, adapted according to its habitat.

Where to Plant

The evergreen coyote bush shrub is useful for erosion control. If planted in sandy soil in coastal locations, it acts as a soil binder. 

In California, this shrub is one of the most common shrubs. Over recent years, coyote bush has become favored by landscape architects. This is largely due to its fast-growing and fast spreading nature. 

Other advantages recognized by the urban planners for planting Baccharis pilularis are the plant’s fire resistance, limited watering needs, and soil stabilization properties.

Coyote bush shrubs will maintain their bright green and evergreen foliage, even during periods of excessive summer heat.

When to Plant

If growing from seed, you will be pleased to know that the coyote bush seeds require no exposure to cold or heat prior to germination. They can simply be collected in the autumn or winter, which is when they are naturally dispersed by wind and birds in the wild. 

This is the best time to plant the seeds. The better the contact the seed has with the soil, the higher success rate you will have with seed germination. Until they germinate, keep the ground moist. 

When growing coyote bush from pot-grown specimens or nursery stock, the best time to plant is in the fall, winter or very early in the spring. 

Coyote Shrub Care and Maintenance


B. pilularis will thrive in the soil of any pH type, from acid to alkaline and anywhere in between. Although it will also survive in soil that is heavy, medium, or light, it should be planted in free-draining ground. 

It will tolerate soil that is rich in salt deposits, as well as that which is infertile and of poor quality. 


This shrub grows an extremely long tap root that can reach 3 m in length. It can therefore access water from deep in the ground.

Once it is established, coyote bush has minimal watering needs. It will tolerate a weekly watering in summer, but it is even tolerant of recycled water. 

Its drought resistance is one of the main reasons that coyote bush is such a popular choice for low-maintenance and easy-to-care-for garden plants.

Every now and then, the shrub’s appearance will be enhanced by an all-over shower of water – but not in the heat of the day, or the foliage will burn. Hosing the coyote brush will remove any dust and dirt that tends to settle on the leaves.


You will want to encourage a robust network of root growth in your coyote bush shrub. Healthy root systems will enable the plant to absorb both water and nutrients from deep in the ground. 

Provide a young plant with extra phosphorous in the spring, and you will reap the benefits of a good network of root development once the shrub is established.

It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully when applying fertilizer. Take care not to overdose and this will put the plant under stress.

After the second year, it is less critical to fertilize a coyote bush, as it will thrive without additional feeding. However, even established shrubs can benefit from a feed every two or three years. 

Don’t fertilize late in the growing season, though, because it will encourage soft new growth to form. Tender shoots produced late in the year may not have time to toughen up before the onset of winter.


Baccharis pilularis will do best if it is planted in a sunny position. It can be in full sun or dappled sun, but too little sun will impede flower production. 

If deprived of sun, coyote bush will grow tall and leggy as it stretches upwards,  trying to reach the sunlight. 

Normally the best planting site is in a south or west-facing position unless there are tall trees or buildings which cast shade.

Pruning and Repotting

Coyote shrubs can be either in an upright form or with a low-growing, spreading habit for ground cover purposes.

The upright variety will grow to around 6 feet (1.83 m), and this is used for hedging, fencing and windbreaks. It is necessary to stop this shrub from growing too tall and straggly with regular pruning. 

Pruning the upright form of B. pilularis will keep the plant’s attractive rounded shape. Very hard pruning, even down to ground level, will result in the plant stimulating new growth, as it would after being damaged by fire.

Low-growing, ground-cover plants will usually grow no more than 1 foot tall. (0.3 m). If you are choosing this shrub as a fill-in, then plant the shrubs around 6 feet (1.83 m) apart. Within a short time, you will create a carpet effect, which can be broken up with paths or plants of color.


Because the coyote bush is a native plant, propagation is not difficult. The two most common ways to multiply your shrubs are from seed and cuttings.

Propagating coyote bush from seed will result in both female and male plants. Male and female flowers grow on separate plants. Female plants are less popular due to their fluffy seed heads, which some people are allergic to. 

Plants found for sale in nurseries are therefore exclusively male specimens. The male plants do not set seeds, and their flowers are smaller. 

Sowing seed is easy, no special treatment is required. You can simply harvest the seed as they ripen in the autumn and let them overwinter. Sow in the early spring in seed trays and they should germinate fairly quickly.

It is more usual to multiply the coyote bush plants from cuttings, and this too is a simple process. Slightly woody cuttings should be taken (from male plants if you don’t want the messy seed heads forming) in the autumn. 

They will root quickly in a light and sheltered place. A sunny windowsill is fine!  Once rooted, the coyote bush plantlets can be transplanted and allowed to grow. Ensure they are kept moist until established.

Pests and diseases

The coyote bush is sometimes considered a pest in itself. Its value as a landscape plant can be overlooked, despite it being a great addition to attract wildlife to the garden. Unfortunately, for the coyote bush haters, it is difficult to eradicate once it is established. 

Cutting it down to the ground will simply encourage plenty of new growth. This is why it will regenerate after being destroyed by fire. Coyote bush shrubs grow a robust root network, which is also difficult to destroy effectively. 

As far as pests and diseases are concerned, B. pilularis is not troubled by any serious issues. Ants, flies and beetles will be attracted to the shrubs, but this merely increases the available food source for the foraging birds, mammals, and small reptiles that are attracted to coyote bush. Damage to the plant itself is minimal.

Temperature and Humidity

Coyote bush does best in areas with warm, dry summers and damp, warm winters. The shrub will also survive at higher elevations, where it may be exposed to colder winters and hotter summers. 

Other Uses for Coyote Bush

Most commonly, this woody shrub grows wild, but it can be a useful addition to a wildlife garden, as well as being an important plant for erosion control in coastal areas. This fast-growing plant is a good shrub to choose to plant on slopes where the soil is unstable.

B. pilularis can also make a good hedging plant because it is fast-growing and doesn’t need significant amounts of water. It is also relatively deer and fire-resistant.

Formerly, natives used the wood from this shrub to make hand tools, whilst the fluffy seed heads were used as a stuffing material for children’s toys.

Types of Coyote Bush You Can Grow

For an excellent ground cover selection, B. pilularis “Pigeon Point” is low-growing and dome-shaped. Dwarf coyote bush, “Pigeon Point” will spread out to provide a green carpet within a short time.

Similarly, B. pilularis “Twin Peaks” will also provide good ground cover, and like Pigeon Point, is tolerant of recycled water. “Twin Peaks” is also known as dwarf coyote bush. 

If growing the upright form of coyote shrub, then choose the male form to be rid of the unwanted fluffy “mess” that the seed pods create.  However, you will attract considerably more wildlife if you grow the female plants since the birds love the seeds. 

Most coyote bush plants that are available for sale in nurseries are exclusively male, due to the unpopularity of the fluffy seed pods of the female plants.


Up until the recent past, B. pilularis was considered an unwanted garden plant. It was often found when the land had been disturbed either by building works or fire and not considered for its value as a native plant.

However, times change, and even landscape architects are recognizing the value of this plant for its low maintenance, low watering, and general ease of care.

*image by Twoscorpions/depositphotos

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