Water-Wise Plant Solutions

Seems like the water shortage is really taking its toll on gardens around the city. Sometimes it takes a crisis for us to wake up and realize that we were taking too many things for granted. Sometimes it’s our health that we allow to deteriorate because of the demands of work. At other times it is our spirits that become diminished because of our lack of attention to take time to feed our souls. In the realm of livelihood, one of those precious things  that require our attention, is our water use. Is it really necessary for us to use our vital water resources to water lawns?

Lawns have become the staple aesthetic for home owners and with that comes a heafty price tag for keeping these green spaces, green. The historical love affair with lawns runs deep in the psyche as it has characteristically been regarded as a symbol of wealth. Perhaps now is the time to introduce a new paradigm of wealth and beauty for our landscapes. In Southern California, the LADWP and many City Departments offer rebates and incentives to homeowners to remove their lawns and replace with drought tolerant landscapes and water-reducing irrigation systems.

Today, U.S. homeowners spend over $17 billion on outdoor home improvements. More than 26 million households hired a green professional, according to a 2000 Gallup survey, to do mainly I would gather, mow and blow. What if we offered a replacement for the water-consumptive lawn and garden paradigm which provided these professionals with an opportunity to still obtain a livelihood but while caring for the environment.

I will provide a series of blogs on plants that require less than average water and together we will create a plant palate that we can use to recreate the gardens of today to provide a more water-wise approach to gardens of the future.

Here we go:

1) Eremophila decipiens – Slender Fuchsia/Firewheel Tree/Emu Bush

Eremophila decipiens

Compact, spreading mound 3 ft. high and wide. Leaves are about 1 in. long and seem to clasp the stems. Brilliant scarlet, slender-tubed blossoms to 1 in. long provide winter color for 2 to 3 months. Tolerates aridity, heat, wind, and poor soil but likes good drainage. All have slender stems which interlace to form a dense compact growth. Some may become leggy, but all respond well to pruning. The common name is derived from the flightless bird that eats the small fruits of some species. In Southern California, the fruit provides food for many birds and animals. Hummingbirds visit the flowers. The plant thrives without irrigation.

Plant type: evergreen shrub

Hardiness zones: 9-10

Sunlight: hot overhead sun

Soil Moisture: dry for extended periods to dry between watering

Soil: ordinary soil, enriched soil, sand, clay, mildly acidic to alkaline

Flowers: red, yellow or orange

Flowering Time: early spring to late spring, mid autumn to late winter

Leaves: mid green