Using Fire Resistant Plants

The week of May 5 is Wildfire Awareness Week. The Oregon Department of Forestry, Keep Oregon Green Association, Bureau of Land Management, and the Office of State Fire Marshal want you to be aware that plant selection can help reduce the risk of wildfire damage to your home, particularly if you live in or adjacent to a forest or rangeland. Fire resistance is not something I generally think about when selecting plants for my urban garden. I did, however, live in Santa Barbara, Calif., as a youth and saw the devastation wildfires can wreck to homes and people’s lives.

The good news is that most plants are fire-resistant. By definition, fire-resistant plants are those that do not readily ignite from a flame or other ignition sources. Fire resistant plants can be damaged or even killed by fire; however, their foliage and stems do not significantly contribute to the fuel and, therefore, the fire’s intensity. It makes sense to keep plants with resin-like sap and those that build potential fire fuel with dried needles or debris away from a home’s foundation. Lawns are useful; they can create effective fuel breaks by blocking intense heat. To learn more, click here for the booklet “Fire Resistant Plants for Home Landscapes – Selecting plants that may reduce your risk from wildfire.“ For more information on fire resistant landscapes visit Keep Oregon Green.