20 Awesome Beach Plants for a Seaside Garden
If you have a seaside garden, you’ll need plants that can stand up to sand, salty air, and occasional (and inevitable) storm-tossed seaside winds. Yes, even if you live inland and it’s only a “salt-marsh” or estuary near you, these plants can be adapted to the garden. Just a few plants will provide lots of color and texture, not to mention the added benefit of attracting birds and butterflies. By growing native plants in your seaside garden, you can attract many different types of pollinating insects that will help increase the biodiversity of your garden. You can also help to improve the soil around these plants by adding compost and mulch every couple of months, which will encourage these plants to grow as they should. These plants not only make lovely seaside garden additions, but they also provide food for various types of wildlife and help to keep beaches clean. The following are the 20 Awesome Beach Plants for a Seaside Garden;
20. Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia)
For a sun-loving carnivorous plant, nothing beats the Seaside Sundew. It’s native to just about every coastline in the world and thrives in sand or soil that’s at least a little bit acidic. This diminutive bog-dweller species only grows to about one inch high, but it’s covered in mucilage glands that trap and digest insects for added nitrogen. This plant likes to grow in open, sunny sites and has great salt tolerance.
19. Beach Pea (Clitoria mariana)
This legume is the state flower of South Carolina, but it’s also a great plant for seaside gardens in general. The Beach Pea (also known as the Blue Vetchling) can grow to be about three feet high and prefers full sun, but it also tolerates a few hours of shade per day. It spreads as it’s growing by sending out tendrils to take root and create a new plant. The pea blooms can be purple, pink, or white and they can grow up to about one foot wide. This is a great choice for fall color as the leaves turn a rich yellow when the temperatures drop.
18. American Sea Rocket (Cakile lanceolate)
This native species is a salt-tolerant ground cover that tends to grow anywhere from six inches to about two feet high. The American Sea Rocket grows very quickly and even thrives in the sandy soil of seaside dunes and beaches. This is a great plant for stabilizing sand, but it also attracts bees and butterflies, so it makes a nice addition to any garden. It can American Sea Rocket can spread by reseeding itself, but it’s not overly invasive. To make this tree flower, just pinch it when the plant is about six inches high.
17. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Rosemary is a common evergreen shrub in many landscapes, but it’s also an excellent plant for seaside gardens. It will tolerate either sun or shade and it needs very little water to survive. If you’re looking for that classic Mediterranean flavor, then this is your plant. Rosemary is also known to repel mosquitos, so it’s a great plant for adding some bug-repellent fragrance into your garden.
16. Sea Lavender (Limonium latifolium)
This North American native Sea Lavender can be found from Nova Scotia down to Florida and west to California. It thrives in dunes and is very tolerant of salt spray. This plant only grows to about two feet tall, but it’s covered in little purple flowers that attract both bees and butterflies. The leaves are also aromatic enough to be used to flavor meats or other dishes, so if you have a fireplace or outdoor grill, this would be a great addition to your seaside garden.
15. Beach Plums (Prunus maritima)
The Beach Plum is a great native plant for the mid-Atlantic and northeastern portions of the United States. It grows in large thickets, which can be pruned to look like a hedge or left as a mass to provide privacy screening. The fruit from this plant is used in preserves, jellies, and other fruit dishes, but it’s also edible for people to eat right off the plant. The shrub itself can grow up to about ten feet high and provides great fall color when it turns red in September or October.
14. Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens)
This goldenrod is common throughout the eastern coast of North America, but it’s especially well adapted to seaside conditions. The Seaside Goldenrod can grow to be anywhere from three feet tall to over six feet high and although its yellow blooms are tiny, they still attract loads of pollinators. This plant prefers full sun or partial shade, as long as the soil is moist. It does add a lot of height to a seaside garden, so it would be best enjoyed as part of the background.
13. Daisy (Erigeron glaucus)
The Seaside Daisy grows wild along mid-Atlantic and southern New England coasts, but it also does well in gardens and landscaped areas. This wildflower grows best in damp conditions, so it will do best if planted near ditches or other features that hold moisture for most of the day. This plant grows to about one foot tall and often spreads as it’s growing. This can be a problem on some sites, but mostly it means more flowers and less weeding for you!
12. Golden Alexander (Zizea area)
This wildflower is very common in the Southeast of the United States, but you can also find it growing along the East Coast of North America. The Seaside Golden Alexander prefers moist areas and blooms from June through September. This plant grows to about two feet tall and can spread up to six feet from its base, so keep that in mind before you plant. Seaside Golden Alexander is mostly known for its yellow blooms, but it is also covered with dark purple spots that make the whole plant look like it’s made out of confetti.
11. Beach Rose (Rosa rugosa)
This wild rose, originally from the coasts of Japan, now grows along coastlines all over the world. This is a great plant for stabilizing dunes and preventing erosion, but it also grows well in dry conditions. The flowers of this plant are pink and very fragrant and they attract bees in droves. This rose also provides great fall color when it turns deep purples, reds, and oranges in the autumn months. They can be planted as shrubs or they can be used as a hedge to provide privacy screening for your seaside garden.
10. Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens)
This goldenrod is common throughout the eastern coast of North America, but it’s especially well adapted to seaside conditions. The Seaside Goldenrod can grow to be anywhere from three feet tall to over six feet high and although its yellow blooms are tiny, they still attract loads of pollinators. This plant prefers full sun or partial shade, as long as the soil is moist.
This Verbascum, also known as Gainsborough Mullein, is a great perennial that prefers dry conditions. The fuzzy green leaves of this plant are quite large and provide a great foil for the bright yellow flowers that bloom from June through September. This plant can grow up to six feet tall and can spread up to ten feet wide. This plant does well in full sun and is deer resistant, making it great for seaside gardens that are also frequented by deer. It can be cut back in the fall to prevent it from getting too leggy.
8. Blue-Eyed Grass
The Seaside Blue-Eyed grass is another wildflower of the mid-Atlantic seaboard. It’s more adapted to cooler climates, so it will do best if planted in moist soil that isn’t constantly full of standing water. The plant can grow up to about 18 inches tall, but it’s best to cut the flower stalks back in the autumn so that you have lots of fresh flowers for next year. Blue-Eyed Grass gets its name from the tiny blue flowers that grow along a central stalk.
7. Barberry (Berberis aethnensis)
The Seaside Barberry is a South-eastern native that prefers well-drained and acidic soils and can grow to about six feet tall. It has yellow flowers that bloom in May when most other plants are just starting to leaf out and it prefers full sun. This plant can be dry and drought tolerant at the same time and will grow in many conditions, including highly acidic ones like those found near the seaside.
6. Calamint (Calamintha grandiflora)
The Seaside Calamint is another South-eastern native that grows near tidal waters. It prefers moist, sandy soils with full sun exposure and can grow up to 18 inches tall. This plant blooms the most in July and August, but it also has a long flowering period from May to November. It is also a common plant in the sandy areas found in South Carolina. When this plant does flower, it produces white flowers that attract hundreds of pollinators.
5. Larkspur (Delphinium tricorne)
The Larkspur is a perennial wildflower that grows in Eastern North America and it usually prefers sandy soils near the coast, but it can grow in richer soils as well. It prefers full sun and reaches a height of about one foot tall. This plant has beautiful spiky blooms that bloom from May until the first hard frost and it attracts loads of pollinators.
4. Seaside St. Johnswort (Hypericum gentianoides)
The Seaside St. Johnswort is a South-eastern native that can be found growing on seashores, but also in meadows and wet areas. It prefers full sun with moist soil and blooms from July to September with yellow flowers. It is a perennial plant, but you can often find it as an annual by the seaside since it doesn’t survive the harsh winters there. This plant grows to a height of about 1 ½ foot and is best pruned back in late autumn to encourage fresh new growth.
3. Eryngium Varifolium
This plant is known as the sea holly and it’s not a holly at all, but rather an herb flower. The Eryngium Varifolium is a seaside native and it grows to about three feet tall. It blooms from June until the first frost of autumn with blues flowers that look like an eryngium (which is the genus name) but are spidery petals surrounding a large cluster of greenish, waxy flowers. This wildflower likes full sun or partial shade and blooms more prolifically with the latter.
2. Armeria Maritima
Armeria Maritima is a flowering perennial that can grow up to three feet tall and thrives in coastal conditions. It’s found along the North Atlantic coast and in Great Britain but can also grow in sunny meadows and open woodlands. It grows best in full sun with well-drained soils and reaches a height of about one foot tall. This wildflower produces pinkish-purple flowers in late spring to early summer that are very attractive to butterflies. During summer, the plant develops a mass of small, green foliage that is resistant to drought and heat. it can also provide a low and sturdy ground cover and it’s best to divide the rootball every year for new growth.
1. Cordyline Australis
Cordyline australis is a flowering perennial that can be found along the US coastline. It usually grows to about eight feet tall, but it can be pruned too much smaller if so desired. This plant prefers sandy soils but will grow in loamy soils as well and it blooms most in fall with flaming red flowers. This plant is highly invasive, but if you can contain it, it’s a very striking flowering perennial. This plant likes full sun or partial shade but does best in full sun. It also prefers moist soils, but it does well in dry conditions as well. This plant can grow in USDA zones 8-11 and should not be planted out in temperate and colder climates.
These plants tend to do best when planted with other plants that are native to the same area since they work together to help one another survive in their preferred environment. They are grown more easily from cuttings or transplants, but you can also plant seeds of your favorite plants and they will usually sprout within a couple of weeks to months.