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Saturday - June 07, 2008

From: South Padre Island, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Erosion Control, Cacti and Succulents, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Landscaping on South Padre Island
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I'm in charge of landscaping at my beachfront condo in South Padre Island and find the wind, salt air, and heat challenging for growing almost anything. We would like to incorporate native plants, but don't know where to start. Can you give us some suggestions? We owners thank you!


This is a challenge, because it's a fairly unique environment. We went to our Recommended Species, clicked on South Texas, and then searched on grasses. shrubs, cacti and succulents, shrubs and trees. We were looking for fibrous roots that would grip the sandy soil, tolerance of calcium carbonate (which is found in rock, but also main component of shells of marine organisms), preference for sandy soil and capable of growing in Cameron County's USDA Hardiness Zone, which is 9b to 10. We feel your best bet is going to be grasses-if it gets too windy, they just bend over, they don't have to be mowed, they are usually attractive year-round with very little care, and they definitely will contribute to holding the soil. We also found a few taller, more substantial plants that have a good chance of doing well there. We found a website from the Virginia Cooperative Extension on Trees and Shrubs that Tolerate Saline Soils and Salt Spray Drift. It has some good suggestions on ways to protect plantings from salt spray and also lists some plants that tolerate salt spray. Unfortunately, many of them are non-natives of North America, not to mention South Texas. But perhaps it will give you some ideas on placement of the plants you select.

Some of the descriptions on the webpages linked to the plant Latin names (below) actually mention toleration of salinity, but not many. Hopefully, if you contact the Texas Cooperative Extension Office, Cameron County, they will have better local information on plants that will grow in those conditions. When you are ready to start selecting plants, go to our native plant Suppliers site, enter your town and state in the Enter Search Location box, and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and landscape consultants in your general area. They also should be in a good position to advise you on the best plants for your locale.


Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem)

Andropogon glomeratus (bushy bluestem)

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Eragrostis spectabilis (purple lovegrass)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)


Cordia boissieri (anacahuita)

Ebenopsis ebano (Texas ebony)

Eysenhardtia texana (Texas kidneywood)


Hesperaloe parviflora (redflower false yucca)


Acacia farnesiana (sweet acacia)

Sabal mexicana (Rio Grande palmetto)


Andropogon gerardii

Andropogon glomeratus

Bouteloua curtipendula

Eragrostis spectabilis

Sorghastrum nutans

Chasmanthium latifolium

Cordia boissieri

Ebenopsis ebano

Eysenhardtia texana

Hesperaloe parviflora

Acacia farnesiana

Sabal mexicana






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