Salty sea breezes, sandy soil, and strong winds at the coastline present a challenge for any seaside garden. If you live by the ocean and are unsure what flowers to plant, look no further; this article discusses plants adapted to survive in harsh coastal environments.
Flowers that grow near the ocean are Apple Blossom, Bee Balm, Beach Aster, Beach Sunflower, Butterfly Bush, California Poppy, Confederate Jasmine, Darwin’s Barberry, Flowering Jasmine, Geraniums, Horned Poppy, Hummingbird Fuchsia, Lavender, Periwinkle, Round Leaved Pigface, Sea Thrift, and Yarrow.
Salt tolerant plants are the key to a successful coastal garden. We compiled a list of coastal flowers and plants that thrive near the ocean to help you choose. Let’s find out what they are!
Flowers and Plants Perfect for Coastal Environments
More and more people move to the coast each year; most of them try to plant a garden only to find out it can be challenging. The harsh coastal environment isn’t plant-friendly unless you know what to plant to cope with salt, sand, and strong winds.
Flowering plants that thrive inland often don’t do very well in a coastal region. Not only does the salt air and sea spray affect plant life, but gardeners also struggle with impoverished soil, high winds, heat, and humidity.
Saltwater intrusion from flooding during storms can also kill most plants. To have a successful seaside garden, finding plants that thrive in salt environments is essential. Some plants have evolved to handle harsh coastal climates, and these are the plants we discuss today.
Salt-tolerant plants will grow in the most challenging conditions and are adaptive to whatever the ocean climate throws at them.
Plants that are considered salt-tolerant can be classed into two categories. These plants are known as the front line or second line salt-tolerant plants. Front line salt-tolerance plants can grow right up to the shoreline and thrive in the harshest coastal climates. The second-line salt-tolerant plants need protection like a buffer from another plant or shrub to survive coastal conditions.
Salt-Tolerant Flowers and Plants for Coastal Gardens
Here is a list of salt-tolerant beach flowers and plants that will thrive in coastal environments for your seaside garden. These flowers and plants are tough and can deal with salt spray, high winds, and direct sun.
- Apple Blossom (escallonia)
- Agapanthus – Silver Mist
- Bee Balm (monarda didyma)
- Beach Aster (erigonglaucus)
- Beach Sunflower (Helianthus debilis)
- Butterfly Bush (buddleja)
- Blackthorn (prunus spinosa)
- California Poppy (eschscholziacalifornica)
- Confederate Jasmine (trachelospermumjasminoides)
- Darwin’s Barberry (berberis darwinii)
- English Ivy (hedera helix)
- Flowering Jasmine (trachelospermumjasminoides)
- Geraniums – some species
- Hawthorn (crataegus)
- Horned Poppy (glaucium flavum)
- Hummingbird Fuchsia (fuchsia magellanica)
- Lavender (lavandula)
- Ornamental Grasses
- Olearia x Scilloniensis – Master Michael
- Periwinkle (vinca)
- Rosemary (rosmarinus officinalis)
- Round Leaved Pigface (disphyma)
- Sea Buckthorn (hippophaerhamnoides)
- Sea Kale (crambemaritima)
- Sea Thrift (armeriamaritima)
- Thyme (thymus vulgaris)
- Virginia Creeper (parthenocissusquinquifolia)
- Yarrow (achillea millefolium)
Apple Blossom – Escallonia
Apple blossom can survive in extreme coastal conditions but doesn’t like to be too exposed to strong winds. Apple Blossom flowers like full sun, and the flowers are a soft pink color and smell lovely.
Make sure to water the plant deeply when first planting. It is a hardy plant that does well in coastal environments and can go weeks without regular water once established.
Agapanthus – Silver Mist
Agapanthus, also known as African lilies, like full sun and moist, well-drained soil. African Lillies are perfect for coastal gardens because they are tough. With its shimmering silvery-blue flowers, the semi-evergreen Agapanthus is everlasting and perfect for a beach garden.
Bee Balm – Monarda Didyma
The Bee Balm is a lovely red decorative perennial. The aromatic leaves from the Bee Balm can be used just like regular mint leaves because this plant is part of the mint family.
Its leaves can also be used to treat bee stings, and as the name hints, bees love it. The Bee Balm needs partial shade but will also thrive in full sun. It prefers moist soil that is not too wet.
Beach Aster – Erigonglaucus
As its name suggests, the Beach Aster thrives in coastal environments. This lovely flowering plant is also known as Sea Breeze, referring to its natural habitat. Beach Asters are typically hardy and can cope with the heat, humidity, sea air, and cold temperatures. It is best planted in full sun; ensure it is soaked before planting and water well in the first year until established.
Beach Sunflower – Helianthus Debilis
The Beach Sunflower plant is a species also known as cucumber leaf sunflower or East Coast dune sunflower. Beach Sunflower plants are native to the U.S and found on the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. This lovely plant is a butterfly-attracting plant that like dry, hot coastal areas and is wind and salt-tolerant. Most gardeners like this colorful plant and use it as a drought-resistant groundcover on the coast.
Butterfly Bush – Buddleja
The Butterfly Bush species has more than 140 varieties to choose from, with a large selection of colors. These lovely flowering plants are rich in nectar, so they are frequented by butterflies and smell like honey. Butterfly Bush must be planted in full sun and need regular watering. The Butterfly Bush is a colorful addition to your seaside garden.
California Poppy – Eschscholziacalifornica
The California Poppy flowering plant is salt and drought-tolerant and the official state flower of California and celebrated from the 13 to 18th of May as California Poppy Week. The lovely, brilliant orange flowers close at night and open again at sunrise. California Poppy plants should be planted in full sun and watered lightly until established.
Confederate Jasmine – Trachelospermumjasminoides
Confederate Jasmine is an evergreen long-stemmed woody plant typically found in Asia. Because this plant does so well on coastlines, it is preferred in California as an ornamental seaside plant. Confederate Jasmin plants can be used as a groundcover or a climbing vine. They thrive in any condition and will grow well in full shade or full sun. Water moderately until well established.
Darwin’s Barberry – Berberis Darwinii
The Darwin Barberry plant is a thorny evergreen shrub that got its name from the naturalist Charles Darwin who discovered the plant in South America. It is said that prehistoric peoples ate its berries for thousands of years.
It has lovely yellow flowers that will liven up any coastal garden. The plant can grow taller than four meters if left unchecked. Darwin’s Barberry can be planted in partial shade or full sun. Ensure not to water this plant because it does not like to be waterlogged.
Flowering Jasmine – Trachelospermumjasminoides
The Flowering Jasmine is an evergreen woody flowering plant with a powerful fragrance that insects and bees love. It thrives in coastal areas and can be used as ground cover or climbing vine in any garden.
This flowering plant can be planted in partial shade, does well in direct sun, and tolerates drought conditions. Flowering Jasmine plants should be watered once a week, but water it more frequently if planted in a pot.
Horned Poppy – Glaucium Flavum
The Horned Poppy plant is an ornamental flowering plant with beautiful yellow flowers perfect for coastal gardens. It flowers from June to August and tolerates cold temperatures well. Plant it in direct sunlight for best results and water moderately.
Hummingbird Fuchsia – Fuchsia Magellanica
The Hummingbird Fuchsia is an evergreen shrub that flowers almost all year and forms red fruit afterward. Hummingbirds love its flowers and are attracted to its sweet nectar. Plant the Hummingbird Fuchsia in a shady area and water daily.
Periwinkle – Vinca
The Periwinkle is considered an invasive species in some parts of the world to some areas of the world because it spreads quickly. If you decide to plant Periwinkle in your coastal garden, keep an eye on it not to spread elsewhere. Periwinkle plants are perfect as ground cover and have beautiful bright pink flowers. Plant it in the shade or sunlight and water moderately as it is drought resistant and can tolerate heat well.
Sea Thrift – Armeriamaritima
The Sea Thrift is often seen growing on coastal cliffs and rocky islands in salty atmospheres. This lovely pink wildflower plant is perfect for coastal gardens because of its hardiness and bright pink flowers that brighten up a space. Plant it in full sun and water moderately for best results.
Round Leaved Pigface – Disphyma
Even though the Round Leaved Pigface has an unpolite name, it has the sweetest smelling flowers. This delicate plant has striking crimson-purple flowers and tolerates coastal conditions well. It is often planted in hanging baskets or used as groundcover. This lovely plant prefers direct hot sunlight. It is drought and salt resistant, perfect for seaside gardens. Water moderately to keep it moist.
Groundcovers, Ornamental Grasses, Trees, Shrubs, and Vines for Coastal Gardens
Planting a flowering groundcover in a seaside garden provides valuable groundcover with a dash of color. The Beach sunflower and the Periwinkle are excellent groundcovers that are salt and wind tolerant. Confederate Jasmin and Round Leafed Pigface spread fast and make excellent dune stabilizers and groundcovers.
Some gardeners like to plant ornamental grasses to give their seaside gardens that wind-swept coastal look. Ornamental grasses like the Fakahat Chee grass, Salt Meadow cordgrass, Sea oats, and Muhly grass are salt-tolerant and do excellent in coastal regions.
Shrubs and Trees
Salt-tolerant trees perfect for coastal gardens are Southern Red Cedar, Live Oak, Mangrove, and Washington Palms.
Flowering shrubs that do well in coastal environments are Hibiscus, Plumeria, and Firebush varieties; these shrubs are perfect choices for any garden on the coast or inland.
Some gardeners like to plant edible plants like Seagrape and Pineapple guava. The Pineapple guava (Acca sellowiana) is a lovely thick shrub with silver-green leaves and is easy to grow.
It has edible flowers and tasty guava-like fruit that ripens in fall. Even though it is one of the lesser-known shrubs, it grows well in California’s coastal climate. It can be grown as a shrub or pruned into a small tree that fits into your seaside garden.
Types of vines that do well in coastal climates are English Ivy, Algerian Ivy, and Creeping Fig. Vines provide cover and make homes, garden walls, and fences look charming. Vines are only moderately salt-tolerant.
Coastal Garden Care
The sandy soil in coastal gardens is primarily poor and free draining. Add farmyard compost or commercial garden compost to your garden before planting. Mix around 3 inches of organic compost into the sandy soil of your garden and water well before planting anything. Adding compost to the earth is also an excellent way to water holding capabilities and valuable nutrients to poor sandy soil.
Even though most salt-tolerant plants do great on their own, they grow significantly better with some care. Coastal plants need fresh water to thrive, so make sure your plants are watered according to their needs. Correct watering during initial planting and times of drought will make a massive difference to a plant’s life.
Even though coastal regions can be challenging, maintaining a seaside garden doesn’t have to be frustrating. If you choose salt-tolerant plants perfect for coastal climates and plan your garden well, you should have a beautiful garden in no time.
When using pots as planters in your seaside garden, use materials suitable for coastal climates. Wooden planters work well, and when they start to weather only look better. Try not to use metal planters in your seaside garden as they degrade in salty air quickly.
Strong winds, salt air, impoverished soil, and sea spray are all harsh elements a coastal garden must cope with on the coast. Even though coastal environments are challenging to some plants, many salt-tolerant plants thrive in coastal regions.
Salt-tolerant plants perfect for coastal gardens are Apple Blossom, Bee Balm, Beach Aster, Beach Sunflower, Butterfly Bush, California Poppy, Confederate Jasmine, Darwin’s Barberry, Flowering Jasmine, Geraniums, Horned Poppy, Hummingbird Fuchsia, Lavender, Periwinkle, Round Leaved Pigface, Sea Thrift, and Yarrow. These tough plants will cope with everything the coastal climates throw at them.