What is a Tuffy? Believe it or not, Tuffy plants can actually trace its roots to the turfgrass industry. What? Yep, that’s right. A pioneering turfgrass professional from the US began searching the world for new innovative turfgrass varieties and found them in Australia of all places, at the headquarter office of Ozbreed Turf & Ornamental Breeding (see “Breeder”). Not only did he find new warm season turfgrass selections but he couldn’t help but notice the overwhelming success that Ozbreed was experiencing with their proprietary collection of native grasses (Lomandra and Dianella) which they were marketing as “the Ozbreed Range”. These plants were becoming very popular in Australia because they gave designers and homeowners the look and feel of an ornamental grass, only with the huge benefit of being much more drought and frost tolerant compared to other ornamental grasses. This meant less water to have a lush landscape AND even when winter temps dipped into the upper teens the plants did not dieback! A light bulb went off…
Ornamental grasses are extremely popular in American landscapes because of the textural interest they provide and, of course, because they are “low maintenance”. I guess we will have to say that “low maintenance” is a relative term in this instance because if ornamental grasses are low maintenance, then the Tuffies are extremely low maintenance! This is the exact reason that the Tuffy program (syn, “Ozbreed Range” in Australia) had been a big hit in Australia with architects, landscape professionals and homeowners: extreme drought tolerance and compact sizes. So recognizing the potential impact these plants could have on the ornamental grass market throughout the southern and western US (especially in light of widespread drought throughout various regions of the US and the ever present threat of water restrictions from California to Florida), it was decided that these Aussie natives would make the leap across the big pond to America. In 2003 the first small lot of foundation stock was sent to several key growers here in the States. The “Celebrated Plants” program, as it was then known, was born.
It has been a long road from there to here: droughts, hurricanes, wars, recession, and so on… and through all of this, the program has continued to grow as more and more growers and industry professionals have witnessed, firsthand, just how tough these plants can be and how great they look in the landscape. We’ve added varieties and we’ve dropped varieties but today the collection has grown to about a dozen plants that, through regular and continuous trialing across the US, are proving to be great options for professionals and homeowners alike.
In 2012, it was decided that a name change was in order for the Celebrated Plants. We wanted a name that more accurately projected the biggest benefit of these plants: they are tough! After much thought, a new name was chosen: Tuffy™ Plants. Whether it be drought tolerance, or frost tolerance, or salt tolerances, or heat or shade or deer or gray water or whatever… there is a Tuffy (or several) that will work in your conditions.