The heat in Southern California has reached record highs already and it isn’t even July yet! The heat has also ignited thoughts of fire in my mind, so I thought I’d compile a list of Fire Resistant Plants that work well in Southern California. Nothing is fire proof, even plants but when we use plants that resist fire we increase our level of protection. Some of the plants I’m going to list are both native and can be valuable to our wildlife too. That makes them real winners. By using plants that help our environment and the wild life we are creating a beautiful balance that will nourish us as we nourish it.
Think about planting some of these in your garden, to help protect your home, our ecology, and the wildlife we share it with. I don’t have photos of all the plants, so I’ll sprinkle in a few here and there.
Achillea – Yarrow – there are both native and non-native varieties that are very forgiving as far as water is concerned. They can take little water, but won’t drown if they are over watered a bit. Pretty fern-like leaves make it a great textural plant.
Atriplex – Salt Bush – this may defoliate in extreme drought, is loved by birds, and are boron tolerant (hard to find that in a plant) but are eaten by both rabbits and deer and if you over water they will die – from root rot.
Baccharis piluaris – Dwarf Coyote Bush – this is a good hedge plant (background – not super pretty) attracts wildlife but is deer resistant.
Ceanothus – California Lilac – this is a great California native with amazing late winter/early spring blooms in deep blue down the spectrum to white. You can find almost any size you need from low creeping ground cover to a very tall and wide shrub.
Cercis occidentalis – Western Redbud – this is a lovely small tree, packs a punch of color in the spring and has beautiful heart shaped leaves. It is a small tree and can fit just about anywhere.
Galvezia – Island Bush Snap Dragon (a little tough in SCV, but great as you move closer to the coast)
Heteromeles – Toyon (Christmas Berry) – this is a great large shrub or small tree (with pruning) that is a great way to bring birds into your garden. It’s bright red berries appear in winter just in time for, yes… Christmas.
Mahonia aquifolium & nevinii – Mahonia also called Barberry – it needs shade inland (SCV among other places)
Mimulus – Monkey Flower – the Sticky Monkey Flower native gold/orange will take full sun but some of the hybrids will need shade inland. These guys are really really cute!
Monardella – Coyote Mint (love the scent!)
Quercus agrifolia – Coast Live Oak – great wildlife plant, it is almost an entire ecosystem in itself! It gets big, so give it plenty of room and plan NOT to water anywhere near it in the summer to keep it healthy.
Rhus integrifolia – Lemonade Berry, yes you can make a cool drink from the berries and they are great for erosion control. These too are loved by the birdies.
Ribes aureum – Golden Currant as you would expect by the name, the birds are going to love it.
Salvias used to be on the fire resistant plants list, but of late they have been taken off. They are still a beautiful water wise plant, but it seems that keeping them a little further away from the house in high fire risk areas would be smart.
If you would like to create a Fire Resistant Landscape Design or any other kind of garden paradise please think about calling me to help you with that design! I love to collaborate with my clients, and enjoy the challenge of incorporating “everyone” in the family in the design. Call me at 661-917-3521 or visit my website and contact me there.