The Q&A Archives: High Elevation Fire Resistant Plants

Question: I would like information on plants to make a fire break at 6,000 ft. elevation.

Answer: Of course, nothing is fireproof, including plants, as the 2003 firestorms showed. But is it possible to have plants that save water and protect against fire at the same time? Absolutely. However, creating a fire-resistant barrier around your home involves far more than picking out the right plants. Keeping them pruned and maintained is an important fire protection tool. Keep low-growing plants within 30 feet of the home; remove dead and dying vegetation and keep plants properly spaced. The closer the plants are to the house, the more care that needs to be taken. Here are some fire-resistant plants recommended by your local Fire District:

California Redbud (Cercis occidentalis) This magenta, crimson and green beauty is especially drought-tolerant. Wild Strawberry (Fragaria chilolensis) If you're looking for a low-growing plant that you can plant next to your home, this species has the rare distinction of being approved by Los Angeles County fire department for any zone in your yard. Beard Tongue (Penstemon palmeri)This particular variety is native to the Southland, but the entire species has been embraced by native plant enthusiasts and firefighters alike, and is approved for use in L.A., Orange and San Diego counties. California Fuchsia (Epilobium canum/californica) This sprawling plant is one of the few perennials listed by Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties for use in fire-prone areas. Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)appears on fire-resistant lists for California Native Plant Society, Western MWD (zone 3), San Diego County, and Orange County fire. However it is not on the approved list for Los Angeles County. Yarrow also can be used as a groundcover if mowed. French Lavender (Lavandula dentata) Although not a true California native, this attractive drought-tolerant plant is endorsed for use in Los Angeles County, and also makes fire-resistant lists for the Inland Empire and Orange and San Diego counties. Sage (Salvia)Nothing evokes California quite like a sage-scented hillside. Beloved by hummingbirds and firefighters alike, autumn sage is endorsed for use by the Orange County Fire Authority, while the entire sage species is endorsed by the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Monkeyflower (Mimulus)This entire species is endorsed for use by San Diego County planners and the Los Angeles and Orange County fire departments.

Hope this information helps you choose just the right plants for your landscape!

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