Fire Resistant Plants

Choosing Fire Resistant Plants

Books have been written on this subject. Rather than list specific plants, which vary greatly based on different climates, micro climates, and personal preferences, it is helpful to think in terms of good fire resistant plants and less fire resistant plants. Unfortunately, people tend to plant too many plants in this area and forget they grow and have different requirements for maintenance and water. Furthermore, all plants may burn at one point. As in life, moderation is important.

Good Fire Resistant Plants

  • Herb gardens
  • Almost anything in a pot
  • High mineral content (gray), such as geraniums, cyclamen, and bulbs
  • Plants with little dead matter, such as succulents
  • Ferns and other plants with an open, airy form and low fuel load
  • Flowering annuals with a brief growing period and little dead wood
  • Some favorable choices include Western redbud, Marguerite daisy, Pineapple guava, and Oleander.

Characteristics of Less Fire Resistant Plants

  • Plants with aromatic oils
  • Plants that create a buildup of dead matter
  • Plants with tiny leaves that lose moisture and ignite easily

    French broom is among the least fire resistant plants

    Pull up broom in the wet season. This French broom doesn’t have the type of root structure that prevents erosion.

The Least Fire Resistant Plants

  • Juniper: called a green gas can by firefighters
  • Rosemary: develops lots of highly flammable dead wood if not regularly pruned
  • Blue gum eucalyptus: has highly flammable debris, leaves, and bark
  • French, Scotch, and Spanish brooms
  • Monterey pine: easily ignited by radiated heat with a lot of dead wood and dropped needles
  • California lilac (Ceanothus)
  • Pride of Madeira: becomes very woody, spreads voraciously to surrounding areas
  • Pampas grass