Drought-tolerant plants bloom at Waterwise Botanicals mega-nursery

Sign of the drought-tolerant plant times.
Waterwise Botanicals in North Escondido.

Waterwise Botanicals in North Escondido.

There’s a drought on don’t you know, and Tom Jesch, founder and general manager of Waterwise Botanicals on Old Highway 395 knows it all too well.

Waterwise, as the name implies, specializes in drought-tolerant plants and succulents. And when you say specialize, it means one of the most amazing displays of such landscaping materials here, there or anywhere.

“Being water wise doesn’t mean it has to look ugly or dry,” said the ever-enthusiastic Jesch. “People that come here experience the shock and awe of the multitude of colors of this place. We help people deal with drought-tolerant landscaping and not be scared.”

The sprawling commercial nursery resembles Carlsbad’s Flower Fields with two major exceptions. The pants all are drought-tolerant miracles and they tend to bloom and colorize year-round.

While Waterwise is a major commercial supplier of drought-tolerant landscaping materials, it doubles as a consumer-friendly nursery with a large educational component. The facility hosts numerous workshops and events, demonstration gardens and even hosts daytrippers out for picnics and country journeys.

Major events include a fall garden show, Spring Fever in April and the annual succulent celebration that took place two weeks ago. About one-third of the nursery’s business comes from general public sales with much of the output going to commercial stores and landscaping companies.

Specialties include succulents, cacti and roses, but it also has an array of perennials, shrubs, ornamental grasses and trees. A shade house is filled with countless varieties of succulents to create container gardens, gifts and more.

“In the rolling hills of North San Diego County, under blue skies, you will find more than a nursery filled with unique, cutting edge plants,” Jesch said, “but a beautiful place to breathe in fresh air and sit by ponds filled with fish and water lilies — a living library and art gallery of botanical enjoyment.”

Landscaping Psychology 101

Tom Jesch taking care of business

Tom Jesch taking care of business.

Jesch and company are landscaping psychologists of sorts. They help people overcome those fears of dry, ugly landscapes wand “the vacuum of information” about water wise choices. They’ve got roses that bloom year-round and don’t need much water, ornamental grass that looks lie pampas grass but has no seeds, Rose Pink Cadillacs that provide year-round no-maintenance flowers. Jesch and company have developed over 90 unique plants over the years as well.

Jesch grew up in Reno, Nev. and sold his firs plant when he was 12 years old. He was a fine artist for many years successfully selling paintings. It’s not all that different from creating beautiful landscapes, he said, where “space is your canvas.”

It’s all in the family for Jesch as he met his wife Jackie who was working for one of Waterwise clients. They’ve been married 19 years. The Jesches sold Waterwise to industry giant, San Marcos-based Altman Plants, but he remained as general manger, a role he cherishes. He supervises about 35-40 employees and continues doing what he’s doing without having to worry about back office dealings and paperwork.

The Waterwise difference

Another facet of Waterwise Botanicals that sets it apart from other operations is its extensive landscape design services all geared toward helping people make their drought-tolerant landscapes all they can be and then some. With his fine arts background, Jesch is able to identify and hire similarly inclined individuals with artistic as well as horticultural backgrounds.

Customers come from far and wide to avail themselves of the drought-tolerant plants, succulents and landscape design services.

“They’ve got a great selection, and the quality is good” said Nick Abajian, owner of Murrietta’s Southern California Garden, during a recent trip to Waterwise where he bought a dozen Creeping Phlox Apple Blossom plants, ground cover with pink blooms that spread rapidly, and don’t need much water. “I come here all the time for drought-resistant plants,” he added

Waterwise Botanicals at 32183 Old Highway 395 is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday. The website is www.WaterwiseBotanicals.com and they can be reached by phone at (760) 728-2641.