Fire-resistant landscapes feature variety of plants

Updated Apr 16, 2024
Perennial delphiniums stand tall as fire-resistant plants. Photo: Bob FranklinPerennial delphiniums stand tall as fire-resistant plants.
Photo: Bob Franklin

Out West, there are a number of areas where fire danger is especially high this year, and landscapers can help clients protect their homes by planting materials that deter fire.

“No plant is fireproof,” Brooke Edmunds, a horticulturist with Oregon State University’s (OSU) Extension Service, told the Lake Oswego Review. “But some are considered fire-resistant.” In general, fire-resistant plants have supple leaves without a waxy or resinous surface and don’t accumulate dry branches or needles.

Edmunds is co-author of a guide from the OSU Extension: “Fire-resistant Landscape Plants for the Willamette Valley,” which is available as a free app for iOS and Android phones, as well as a printable 190-page publication and a mobile-friendly version for e-readers.

The guide provides a diverse list of plants by category: groundcovers, perennials, woody shrubs, vines and trees, as well as information about water and sun needs, height, width, and hardiness, and other details such as deer-resistance and whether a given plant attracts bees, butterflies or birds.

Some of the plants featured in the guide include:

  • Carnation (Dianthus): An evergreen groundcover that grows to about 6-9 inches tall and 15 inches wide, has pink flowers that appear in June and July and is hardy in Zones 3-9. It takes partial to full sun, attracts birds and butterflies and grows well in rock gardens.
  • Tickseed (Coreopsis): A perennial with yellow, orange, maroon or red flowers that blooms from March through November if kept deadheaded. The blossoms entice butterflies and the seeds are attractive to birds. Grow in part to full sun in well-drained soil. Hardy in Zones 3-9.
  • Delphinium: A perennial that prefers well-drained soil and grows upright to 2 feet and gets 18 to 36 inches wide. The blue, pink, purple or white flowers bloom in March and April. Delphiniums take partial to full sun. Hardy in Zones 5-9.
  • Daphne (burkwoodii): A 3- to 5-foot, semi-evergreen shrub with highly fragrant white to pink flowers that bloom in May and June and attract butterflies. This plant needs partial shade and well-drained soil with a neutral pH. Hardy in Zone 4-8.
  • Black oak (Quercus velutina): A deciduous tree with a spreading crown and good fall color. Grows 50 to 60 feet tall and wide. The diminutive flowers in March through May appeal to birds and butterflies. Acorns attract wildlife. Grows in full sun and is drought tolerant. Hardy in Zones 3-9.
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