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Save your Garden from Future Heat Waves


Southern California is experiencing record heat, with local temperatures coming near to desert temperatures in our latest heat wave. This has had some severe effects on some of our beloved plants and is going to necessitate choosing different plants for our gardens in light of this new normal. Here are my thoughts after surveying plant material in the San Gabriel Basin:

Things to seriously consider not using anymore:

Calocedrus decurrens                         Incense Cedar

Leptopsermum species                      New Zealand Tea Tree

Liquidambar                                       Sweet Gum 

Magnolia grandiflora                          Southern Magnolia

Magnolia soulangeana                       Tulip Magnolia

Sequoiah species                                Redwoods

Rhododendron species                       Azaleas & Rhodendron                                                

Tree ferns                                           Australian, New Zealand, Tasmanian, etc.

In general, plants from cool maritime and montane climates, including New Zealand plants. 


Things to use more carefully:



Ginko biloba

All shade plants, ferns , etc.


Things that did really well:

Acacia species

Albizia julibrissim

 Eucalyptus species

Jacaranda mimosifolia

Lagerstromia varieties

Tabebuia ipe

Tipuana tipu

Desert Trees and Plants

In general, trees and plants native to our Southern Californian foothills and deserts                                                                                    and trees and plants from Africa, Australia, the Subtropics and the Tropics


What to do to protect existing plants from the heat, given we are in a drought.

- Before any severe heat wave, soak susceptible plants well. Then they can sweat (transpire) & cool off & keep from being desiccated.

- Cover sun tender plants such as ferns, camellias, etc. with shade cloth

- Don’t trim off browned out branches as they give some protection to lower foilage AND the branches may come back as it cools.

- Mulch, mulch, mulch!

Communities served:
Pasadena, Altadena, South Pasadena, Sierra Madre,
San Marino, Arcadia, CA