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Interest In Water Wise Plants Growing

Green Acres horticulture expert Greg Gayton.


Despite the drought, or maybe because of it, California nurseries and garden centers say business is picking up as interest in drought-tolerant plants increases.

That's evident at the Green Acres nursery on Jackson Road in Sacramento where horticulturist Greg Gayton is helping a customer shopping for a trickling fountain with recirculation systems.

"They're $195.00, all of them and that includes the pump too, and it re-circulates."

Gayton says April is a hectic time at the nursery. "This is spring and everybody's out and about. We're pretty busy this time of the year."

And a lot of customers, he says, are looking for drought tolerant plants. He tells them about an Australian shrub called grevillea

"There has been more of an interest because water wise plants are really interesting. Like grevillea for example. They attract hummingbirds, they do well in our horrible soil. So they're not only water wise but they work well in our climate and they're very attractive."

Gayton also points customers to California native plants, like a hardy shrub called ceanothus.


"Consumer's buying trends are shifting to more California natives and drought-tolerant plants," says Chris Zanobini who heads the California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers. "The nursery business is doing pretty good considering that we are in a fourth year of drought."

Zanobini says that's good news for an industry that took huge hits when the housing bubble burst and people lost their homes and their yards...and developers stopped building new homes.

Greg Gayton at Green Acres says besides pointing customers to water wise plants, he tells them to check their irrigation.

"If you can see rainbows when you water, you're actually wasting water. So why would you throw that money away. Checking your irrigation system once a year, changing your heads to drip watering and MP rotator heads is just a win win win situation."

He also suggests using mulch to help keep moisture in your soil. Gayton says water wise landscaping should be a constant, even if the rains return. "It's something that we should continue practicing. You know it's making us be more imaginative and making us be more creative."

And to help customers be more creative, the nursery is posting new signage. Plants requiring little water have signs next to them with the words water wise.

Green Acres is a Capital Public Radio underwriter.