Fire-wise succulents – surviving a bush fire with a succulent garden!

Fire-wise succulents – surviving a bush fire with a succulent garden!

If you are reading this blog you probably know that succulents are a water-wise plant but did you know that they are also ‘fire-wise’?? They have fire retardant properties, so they may get a little charred but will stay largely intact.

Due to their ability to store water in the their leaves and stems succulents do not really burn – they cook, bake or boil but they do not burst into flames or spread flames. While succulents cannot stop a fire, they can help protect your property from embers and slow the passage of flames.

Nothing can guarantee your home will be safe in a bush fire but you can make the area around it less flammable. If you grow succulents around your home you can create a fire shield around your house.

Succulents and cactus store water in their leaves, stems and roots making them a juicy, fire retardant barrier in the garden. If used on perimeters, as well as being integrated into your garden they become a “living safety shield” as an added protection against fire. Not only are they fire safe, drought tolerant and great to look at they can be planted to create a unique, lush, and picturesque landscape addition.

Which succulents are the most fire retardant?
Naturally the succulents with the best water storing leaves would be the best fire-wise succulents. They have a higher moisture content than hard, thin and needle-like leaves, making them less flammable. So with this in mind the succulents that would be the most fire-retardant are species such as:  Crassula, Aloe, Agave, Cotelydon and Sedums. Echeveria, Graptoveria, Pachyphytum and Graptopetalum plus any other succulents with water storing soft, thick, succulent or fleshy leaves are also flame resistant.

Agave Attenuata Fire Wise Succulent

Agave Attenuata

Succulent Garden not Pots

Cotelyldon

Aloe Succulent

Aloe

Do I need to use large succulents?
As long as the succulents have low flammability and are set well below the house windows and planted near the house any of the above succulents will provide a protective barrier.  Make sure you prune old or dead growth and remove any build up of dead leaves.  You can make a carpet of succulents (as per the photo) below to create a barrier.

Crassula Ovata Fire Wise Succulent

Crassula Ovata – Jade Plant

Aeonium Aboreum Fire Wise Succulent

Aeonium Aboreum

Aeonium Aboreum Fire Wise Succulent

Aeonium Aboreum

Article on succulents saving a house in a bush fire
I read an article on a house in Sante Fe, California that was one of only a few houses that survived a bush fire due to their succulent garden. See link below.

http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/08/home/hm-succulent8