Top Plants for Seaside Gardens

Create a showstopping display of color from spring to fall with these easy-care flowers that are adapted to tough, seaside conditions.

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Oceanside Garden

    Seaside gardening can be challenging -- your plants have to be able to stand up to strong winds as well as salt spray. And that's asking for a lot, so we've picked a handful of the toughest plants we know of.

    Because they're so dependable, these plants are good choices for any yard, whether your view is ocean, prairie, or mountaintop.

Rugosa rose

    You'd expect a plant native to Siberia to be tough -- and this rose doesn't disappoint! Rosa rugosa stands up to heat and cold, drought, wind, and salt spray with ease. It bears fragrant flowers off and on from spring to fall; the flowers become pumpkin-orange rose hips that birds love.

    Name: Rosa rugosa

    Zones: 2-9


    Double your pleasure by planting lavender in front of roses. Both of these beauties will fill your garden with scent -- and the lavender will camouflage the bare rose stems. Lavender is an easy-care plant that loves sandy soil, making it perfect to grow along the beach.

    Name: Lavandula angustifolia

    Zones: 5-8

South American Verbena

    Create a cottage-garden feel with this whimsical plant. South American verbena displays clusters of lavender-purple flowers all summer long on stems up to 6 feet tall. The flowers attract a range of butterflies and are wonderful in cut-flower arrangements.

    Name: Verbena bonariensis

    Zones: 7-11, though it's typically grown as a self-seeding annual


    Daylilies seem to thrive anywhere you plant them -- so it should be no surprise they'll also do well by the beach. They bear grassy foliage and flowers in a wide range of shades, from bright reds and deep purples to golden-yellows, eye-catching oranges, and creamy white.

    Name: Hemerocallis selections

    Zones: 3-10


    Though they look delicate, hydrangeas hold up well to wind and salt -- so they're a beautiful addition to partly shaded sections of the seaside garden.

    Test Garden Tip: Hydrangeas don't deal well with drought. Be sure to keep them well watered.

    Name: Hydrangea selections

    Zones: 4-9


    Enjoy color and texture all year with evergreen junipers. Happily, there's a wide range of these easy-growing shrubs -- look for varieties with blue, green, or gold foliage, as well as low, creeping types; medium-size selections; and tall, narrow picks perfect for privacy.

    Name: Juniperus selections

    Zones: 2-10


    Another great evergreen for creating winter interest, wintercreeper is a lovely groundcover that you can also train to grow as a vine. Most varieties feature dark green foliage variegated with white, cream, or gold.

    Name: Euonumus fortunei

    Zones: 5-9


    Drought-tolerant and tough-as-nails, portulaca (often called moss rose), won't knuckle under to salt spray. It bears beautiful flowers on a low, creeping plant perfect for the front of the border or in window boxes, hanging baskets, and other containers. It blooms in a range of shades from white and magenta to yellow, orange, and red.

    Test Garden Tip: Though portulaca is an annual, it commonly self-seeds in the garden so you may need to plant it only once.

    Name: Portulaca selections

    Zones: Annual


    Easy-growing yarrow is perfect for any sunny garden -- it's virtually pest-free, is a wonderful cut flower, and holds up to cold, drought, and windy conditions. Look for selections with blooms in shades of rich yellow, terra-cotta orange, deep red, bright pink, and pure white.

    Name: Achillea selections

    Zones: 3-9


    Gardeners cherish gazanias as much for their cheery, daisy-shape blooms in glowing shades of yellow, orange, red, pink, and white as for their tough nature. In warm-climate areas, these charmers are evergreen perennials, but they also make fantastic additions to container gardens.

    Name: Gazania selections

    Zones: 8-10, but usually grown as an annual.


    Grow bold gaillardia for its long bloom season; it flowers nonstop from summer to frost. It's also wonderfully drought-resistant, so it thrives in the sandy soil often found around lakes and oceans. Want more reasons to love it? Gaillardia is great for cutting and attracts scores of butterflies.

    Name: Gaillardia selections

    Zones: 3-8

Red-Hot Poker

    Add drama to your garden with red-hot poker. This stately perennial offers strappy leaves topped by spikes of red, orange, and yellow flowers. It's a wonderfully heat- and drought-resistant plant that's also a favorite of hummingbirds.

    Name: Kniphofia selections

    Zones: 6-9


    Plant lantana and you'll see butterflies in your garden. You're also sure to enjoy this plant's easy-care nature -- its bright color and ability to take care of itself make lantana the perfect plant to grow along the beach.

    Name: Lantana selections

    Zones: 10-11, but usually grown as an annual


    Geraniums will thrive in any sunny spot, making them ideal for exposed seaside beds and borders. Look for varieties with bright red blooms to catch the eye, or go with soft pinks or whites for a more soothing presentation.

    Name: Pelargonium selections

    Zones: 10-11, but usually grown as an annual


    Cuphea is relatively new to gardeners, so it's not gotten the amount of attention it deserves. But this little annual blooms its head off, producing bright red, pink, or orange flowers, even in the hottest weather. It also holds up well to salt and drying winds.

    Name: Cuphea selections

    Zones: Annual

Sea Pink

    Lovely little sea pink is an adorable groundcover with grassy foliage and round clusters of pink or white flowers in late spring and early summer. It's a slow spreader, so you don't have to worry about it running rampant.

    Name: Armeria selections

    Zones: 3-9

Sea Oats

    Native to areas of North America, this ornamental grass thrives just about anywhere you plant it (even in shade). Sea oats bears unique plumes that seem to dance in the breeze and attractive bronze foliage in fall.

    Test Garden Tip: Sea oats can be an aggressive spreader in the garden.

    Name: Chasmanthium latifolium

    Zones: 5-9

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