"The last two years I think things have started to come back," says Chris Zanobini, President of the California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers. "But there is a lot of concern given the water situation that we're facing right now."
Zanobini says warmer-than-usual winter weather has boosted sales for now...and nurseries are already seeing a shift in consumer demand to drought-tolerant ground cover and succulents.
"Definitely there are opportunities to promote California natives and drought resistant plants," says Zanobini. "But there is also information that we need to get out about how to just manage what you currently have and making sure your irrigation is effective."
One way to do that, Zanobini says, is to use mulch, which can reduce water evaporation by up to 40 percent.
Many nursery owners were hit hard in previous droughts and worry about a similar fate as water districts limit or ban outdoor watering.
January brought above-average rainfall and snow to much of California, partly due to El Niño. But forecasters say the ocean warming condition is "taking a break" for the next week or longer.
The U.S. Drought Monitor says, other than a slight reduction in exceptional drought in the northern Sierra, it needs more time to assess impacts of the recent moisture on California's long-term drought.
California regulators have made modest adjustments to water conservation requirements for cities.
The second measurement this winter of snowpack in the Sierra Nevada was 130 percent of average. State water officials say the snowpack will help reservoir recovery.
California's water conservation rate dropped to 18 percent in December. But water regulators say the state continues to meet its long term goals.