Salt resistant plants have the best chance of success in a garden area that is regularly exposted to road deicers or sea air. In this post, I’ll list my top pick for the best plants that can tolerate salty soil or spray.
Choosing salt tolerant plants is very important if your garden is next to a road or sidewalk that is treated with deicers, or if you live near any type of seawater, like the ocean.
Even though it is a naturally occurring substance, salt can actually be devastating for some types of flowers, trees, or shrubs.
When the concentrations are high either in the soil or the air, it can severely damage or even kill sensitive plants.
In this guide, you’ll discover why it’s important to choose salt resistant plants that are tolerant of it, and learn about some of the best ones for your garden.
What Gardens Need Salt Resistant Plants?
You need need salt resistant plants in any garden are that is next to a road or walkway which is treated with deicers in the winter, or if you live next to the coast.
Deicers from treated roads gets kicked up into your yard, and dumped over the top of your beds all winter long. Once everything melts, it soaks into the soil where it’s eventually absorbed by the roots and foliage.
By the sea it’s carried in mist and wind, which means that the flowers, leaves, and the soil are constantly being sprayed by it.
Why Is Salt A Problem For Some Plants?
Salt is a problem for non-tolerant plants because it absorbs water, pulling it away from the roots and leaves. Too much exposure creates drought-like conditions for them.
This volatile environment can severely injure, or even kill the most sensitive ones. This can happen very quickly for some, or it can take several years.
But don’t worry, there are plenty of great plants that can tolerate salty conditions, so you can still have a gorgeous and thriving garden.
Related Post: How To Prevent & Fix Salt Damage To Plants
List Of Salt Tolerant Plants
Below are my top picks for the plants will thrive best in any area that is exposed to salt. I’ve successfully grown all of these in my gardens that have regular exposure to deicers, so I know they will work for you too.
It doesn’t matter which type you choose, both daylilies and asiatic lilies perform very well in salt-laced areas.
They’re highly tolerant, very hardy, and beautiful too. There are tons of different varieties, each with their own stunning colors and blooms.
Most of them are 3-4’ tall, but sizes vary depending on the species. They do best in full sun, and like to be watered regularly.
2. Butterfly Weed
Commonly called butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa is a drought tolerant flower that is moderately salt resistant as well.
It prefers sunny and well-drained areas where it can attract lots of insects and pollinators. It has bright orange and yellow blooms that appear from mid-summer to early fall.
If you want to fill your road or seaside garden with color from late spring until early fall, yarrows are an excellent choice.
The unique foliage makes a nice contrast to the others, and the blooms come in various shades of yellow, white, or pink.
They are moderately salt tolerant, do best in hardiness zones 3-9, and are good for partial shade to full sun.
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Whether tall or sprawling, all types of sedum plants are fairly tolerant of salt exposure. These hardy perennials do best in zones 4-11, and come in a wide array of colors and sizes.
They do best in full sun, bloom anywhere from mid-summer to late fall, and look spectacular mixed with other flowers or in a row all by themselves.
Another wonderful plant that has a high tolerance of salt is dianthus. They do best in zones 4-9, and bloom in various shades of pink, red, and white in the spring and early summer.
Depending on the variety, they can reach anywhere from 6-12” tall, and prefer regular watering.
6. Prickly Pear Cactus
You might be surprised to see prickly pear cactus on this list, but they are incredibly hardy and tolerant to just about any conditions.
These super tough cacti can survive in a wide range of zones (3-10), depending on the species. They are 4-6’ tall with fantastic yellow, pink, or orange blossoms.
7. Astilbe (False Goat’s Beard)
The wispy foliage may look delicate, but false goat’s beard is very resilient. You can find them in different shapes and sizes, and they are perfect for zones 4-9.
They do very well in partial shade, though some can handle the full sun, and they like regular waterings. Learn all about how to grow astilbe here.
8. Hens And Chicks (Sempervivum)
A versatile outdoor succulent plant that is highly salt resistant, Sempervivums do really well in a variety of climates – from zones 3-11.
They can be anywhere from light green to dark red, and are excellent to mix and match for a nice variety of color.
These do best in sandy soil, since they don’t require much water, and prefer a full sun exposure.
9. Bee Balm (Monarda)
As a flowering herb, bee balm is much more tolerant than most gardeners realize. Also called bergamot or firecracker plant, they get very cool looking bright red, pink, or purple flowers in mid-summer.
They do well in the full sun to partial shade in zones 4-9, and can bloom from late spring until early fall.
10. Gaillardia (Blanket Flower)
This is highly salt tolerant perennial is also known as an Indian blanket plant. Gaillardia has bright daisy-like flowers that come in red, orange, or yellow.
They do well with little water, and can survive in zones 3-9. My favorite thing about them is that they bloom from summer through late fall.
11. Ajuga (Bugleweed)
Another outstanding choice for any street boulevard, sidewalk border, or seaside garden. Ajuga has stunning foliage that can be anywhere from green, variegated, multicolored, or burgundy, to almost black.
The best climates for bugleweed are zones 3-9. It will reach up to 6” when in bloom in early spring, and is happy anywhere it can receive full sun.
12. Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)
The cheery black-eyed Susan is easy to spot with their bright yellow petals. It will reach 2-3’ in full sun to partial shade, and is great mixed with other flowers.
These extremely tolerant perennials thrive near saltwater or next to the roadside. They can live in zones 3-9, and require very little care.
Another one that is tough-as-nails, yuccas are highly salt resistant. The awesome part is that you can find a variety that will survive almost anywhere (zones 3-10).
They are often used as an ornamental shrub in warmer climates, but there are several that will thrive in colder areas too. In the spring-summer, they bloom with highly fragrant white or pink flowers atop tall spikes.
As an extremely popular, long-lived flower in zones 2-8, peonies need no introduction. The huge flowers are not only showy, they smell amazing.
These versatile perennial plants can withstand moderate amounts of salt in the air and soil. Plus, there’s a large variety of different ones you can choose from, so you can mix and match. Learn more about growing peonies here.
15. English Ivy
Another salt tolerant plant for gardeners is the English ivy. It’s a very hardy vine that can withstand both intense sunshine and drought conditions extremely well.
Given the proper care, the vines can reach upwards of 40’ in length, and are quick to climb on walls and gates.
Salt resistant plants are essential to use in garden areas that are consistently exposed to road deicers or are nearby the sea. You can’t go wrong choosing any of the ones on this list, they will give you the best success.
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Share your toughest salt resistant plants in the comments section below.