15 Pretty Plants That Will Thrive in Seaside Gardens

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perennial garden waterfront
Photo: Tria Giovan

Elevate an already-stunning ocean view by creating a showstopping seaside garden. These coastal perennials, annuals, and shrubs will put on a showstopping display of color from spring to fall, despite sandy soils, salt spray, and strong winds. Because they're so tough, these plants also would be good choices for just about any yard, whether your view is a beach, prairie, or mountaintop.

01 of 15

Daylily

Lavender Vista daylily
Dean Schoeppner

Thriving just about anywhere you plant them, daylilies make a reliable choice for seaside gardens. 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

Size: To 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide

Growing Conditions: Full to part sun in moist, well-drained soil

Zones: 3-10

Buy It: Happy Returns Daylily ($20, The Home Depot)

02 of 15

Sea Oats

Sea Oats Grass
Rob Cardillo

Native to North America, this ornamental grass thrives just about anywhere you plant it (even in shade). Plus its name is a big clue that it works well as a coastal plant. Sea oats bears unique seed 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; prevent reseeding by cutting off seed stalks in late summer.

Name: Chasmanthium latifolium

Size: To 5 feet tall and 30 inches wide

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in moist, well-drained soil; drought tolerant once established

Zones: 4-8

03 of 15

Red-Hot Poker

Kniphofia Red Hot Poker
Laurie Dickson

Add some vertical interest to seaside gardens with red-hot poker. This stately perennial offers strappy leaves, topped by spikes of red, orange, and yellow flowers in summer. It's an especially good plant for salty soil, but it's also heat- and drought-tolerant, plus it's a favorite of hummingbirds.

Name: Kniphofia

Size: To 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide

Growing Conditions: Full sun in moist, well-drained soil

Zones: 5-9

04 of 15

Gaillardia

Gaillardia plant
Jamie Hadley

Grow bold gaillardia (a tough perennial also known as blanket flower) for its long bloom season in seaside gardens; it flowers nonstop from summer to frost. It's also drought-resistant, so it thrives in the sandy and salty soils around lakes and oceans. Want more reasons to love it? Gaillardia is great for cutting and attracts scores of butterflies.

Name: Gaillardia

Size: To 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in average soil; can tolerate poor soils and drought

Zones: 3-10

Buy It: Goblin Gaillardia ($15, Breck's)

05 of 15

Yarrow

Yarrow
Bob Stefko

Easy-growing yarrow is the perfect coastal plant for any sunny garden. It's virtually pest-free, makes a sturdy 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

Size: To 3 feet tall and wide

Growing Conditions: Full sun in well-drained, average soil; can tolerate drought

Zones: 3-10

Buy It: New Vintage Red Yarrow ($13, Etsy)

06 of 15

Lantana

Lantana plant
Blaine Moats

Tolerant of salty soil, lantana is the perfect plant to grow along the beach in seaside gardens. It has brightly colored flowers from summer to frost that almost guarantee that you'll see butterflies in your garden. You'll also enjoy this coastal plant's easy-care nature; it does not need deadheading or much other maintenance to look its best.

Name: Lantana

Size: To 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide in most conditions

Growing Conditions: Full sun in moist, well-drained soil

Zones: 8-11, but grown as an annual in colder regions

Buy It: Lantana Mix ($17, The Home Depot)

07 of 15

Gazania

Gazania plant
Jay Graham

Gardeners cherish gazanias in coastal gardens 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 plants for salty soil are evergreen perennials, but they also can be used as seaside balcony plants for container gardens.

Name: Gazania selections

Size: To 1 foot tall and wide

Growing Conditions: Full sun in well drained soil; drought tolerant once established

Zones: 4-10, but usually grown as an annual

Buy It: New Day Mix Gazania Seeds ($3, Etsy)

08 of 15

Lavender

Lavender
Peter Krumhardt

Double your pleasure by planting lavender in front of roses in seaside gardens. Both will fill your garden with scent. Lavender is an easy-care sandy soil plant that grows well along the beach.

Name: Lavandula angustifolia

Size: To 3 feet tall and wide

Growing Conditions: Full sun in well-drained soil; can tolerate drought

Zones: 5-10

Buy It: Lavender Grosso ($14, Walmart)

09 of 15

Hydrangea

Hydrangea plant
Jeff McNamara

Although they look delicate, hydrangeas can be included in your coastal garden inspiration. They don't mind sandy soil and hold up well to wind too, so they're a beautiful addition to partly shaded sections of seaside gardens.

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

Name: Hydrangea

Size: To 7 feet tall and 12 feet wide

Growing Conditions: Full sun to full shade (depending on variety) in moist, well-drained soil

Zones: 3-9

Buy It: Endless Summer Hydrangea ($31, The Home Depot)

10 of 15

Juniper

golden common juniper
William N. Hopkins

Enjoy color and texture all year in seaside gardens with evergreen juniper. Happily, there's a wide range of these easy-growing coastal 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

Size: To 65 feet tall and 20 feet wide

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in well-drained soil; can tolerate drought

Zones: 3-9

Buy It: Blue Rug Juniper ($31, The Home Depot)

11 of 15

Portulaca

Portulaca plant
William N. Hopkins

Drought-tolerant and tough-as-nails, portulaca (often called moss rose) is a perfect beach plant for salty soil. This coastal flower bears beautiful blooms on a low, creeping plant perfect for the front of the border or in window boxes, hanging baskets, and other containers in seaside gardens. It blooms in a range of shades from white and magenta to yellow, orange, and red.

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

Name: Portulaca

Size: To 9 inches tall and 1 foot wide

Growing Conditions: Full sun in well-drained soil; can tolerate drought

Zones: Annual

Buy It: Double Yellow Moss Rose seeds ($1 for 1500, Etsy)

12 of 15

Geranium

Peter Krumhardt

Happy in any sunny spot, geraniums are an ideal coastal plant for seaside gardens. Look for varieties that have bright red blooms to catch the eye, or go with soft pinks or whites for a more soothing presentation.

Name: Pelargonium

Size: To 3 feet tall and wide

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in moist, well-drained soil

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

Buy It: Pinto Premium Geranium Mix seeds ($23, Walmart)

13 of 15

Cuphea

Cuphea plant
Peter Krumhardt

Colorful cuphea blooms its head off all summer long, producing bright red, pink, or orange flowers, even in the hottest weather or in salty soil. It also holds up well to drying winds, too, making it the perfect coastal plant. Though it is perennial in frost-free climates, it is usually grown as an annual.

Name: Cuphea

Size: To 30 inches tall and 3 feet wide

Growing Conditions: Full sun in moist, well-drained soil; drought tolerant once established

Zones: 8-11

14 of 15

Sea Pink

Pink thrift flowers
David Speer

This adorable coastal groundcover has grassy foliage and round clusters of pink or white flowers in late spring and early summer, adding charm to seaside gardens. Sea pink, also called sea thrift, is a slow spreader, so you don't have to worry about it running rampant in sandy soil.

Name: Armeria

Size: To 1 foot tall and wide

Growing Conditions: Full sun in well-drained, moist soil

Zones: 4-8

Buy It: Armeria Flower Seeds ($2 for 100, Etsy)

15 of 15

Allium

pink Alliums
Mark Kane

Available in all sorts of colors and sizes, alliums brighten up seaside gardens with their beautiful blooms in spring and summer. Also called ornamental onions, these bulbs prefer very well-drained soil so a sandy site is perfect for them.

Name: Allium

Size: To 5 feet tall (in bloom)

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Zones: 4-9

Buy It: Allium 'Gladiator' ($19 for 3, White Flower Farm)

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