More than three-quarters of Florida's population lives in coastal counties. Gardening in these areas requires a little extra planning to deal with the winds, inescapable salt, and sandy high-pH soils.
The most important thing is to choose salt-tolerant plants, especially if you live within an eighth of a mile of the coast. These include vines such as bougainvillea, groundcovers like sea oats, and shrubs like wax myrtle.
Be sure to water your plants until they're established, and as needed after that. Protect native plants already growing in your landscape, as they're naturally adapted to coastal conditions.
You can create wind screens with fences, sturdy shrubs, or groups of trees. This will help protect your landscape plants from high winds, and create your personal oasis.
Plants for Your Coast Landscape
One of Florida's many charms is that no matter where you are, there's likely to be a beach nearby. But this confluence of salty soil and sea spray does affect what plants will—and won't—succeed. If you live close to the ocean, be sure to choose salt-tolerant plants for your landscape.
Plants installed within about one-eighth of a mile of saltwater coasts should be at least somewhat salt-tolerant. Salt-tolerant plants can have varying degrees of tolerance, so choose and place them carefully.
Keep in mind that many native plants already growing on coastal lands are highly salt-tolerant, and could be incorporated into your landscape.
When selecting plants for your coastal site, look at more than just salt tolerance. Cold weather might impact tropical plantings in North and Central Florida, and light and soil are always important factors to consider.
To discover what plants will thrive in your landscape, contact your county Extension office.
- Florida Plant ID: Natal Plum
- Landscape Plants: Chrysobalanus icaco, Cocoplum
- Landscape Plants: Sapindus saponaria, Florida Soapberry
- Lee County Extension: Best Plants for Coastal Communities
- Casasia clusiifolia Seven-year Apple
- Beach Plants of Northeast Florida, Visual Check Sheet (PDF)
- Coastal Hammock Plants of Northeast Florida, Visual Check Sheet (PDF)
- Irrigating with High Salinity Water
- Native Florida Plants for Home Landscapes
- Planting and Maintaining Common Coastal Plants in Florida (PDF)
- Salt Marsh Plants of Northeast Florida, Visual Check Sheet (PDF)
- Salt-tolerant Annuals
- Salt-tolerant Plants for Florida (PDF)
- South Florida Tropicals: Carissa (Natal Plum)
- South Florida Tropicals: Pigeon Plum Tree (PDF)
- Uniola paniculata Sea Oats
UF/IFAS Publications Available for Purchase
- Common Coastal Plants in Florida: A Guide to Planting and Maintenance
- Landscape Plants for the Gulf and South Atlantic Coasts: Selection, Establishment, and Maintenance
Also on Gardening in a Minute
- Beach Sunflower
- Black-Eyed Susan
- Coastal Gardening
- Confederate Jasmine
- Creeping Fig
- Crown of Thorns
- Fatsia Japonica
- Gumbo-Limbo Tree
- Live Oaks
- Muhly Grass
- Pineapple Guava
- Prickly Pear
- Railroad Vine
- Salt-tolerant Landscapes
- Sea Grape
- Swamp Sunflower
- Wax Myrtle