Explore Plants

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 

Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - May 12, 2013

From: Long Beach, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Plant Lists, Drought Tolerant, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Salt tolerant plants for Long Beach
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

When Hurricane Sandy hit Long Beach, it has killed all my plants and now almost all of Long Beach is left with dead dried brown vegetation. I want to replant front with bushes and flowers. What would you suggest for ocean water swamped soil.

ANSWER:

Talk about adding insult to injury; we can only imagine what you have had to deal with.

Although it may seem counter-intuituve, ground that is flooded with salt water kills them by drying them out. The higher concentration of salt in the ground water than in the plant itself causes the process of osmosis to be reversed, moving water and nutrients out of the plant roots, instead of into them.  Plants that are native to the seashore have adapted to these conditions but not to the extreme they are subjected to during a storm, let alone a hurricane and storm surge like you experienced.

The best strategy for recovering from such conditions, is to "wash" the soil as soon as possible with clear water to leach the salt out of the soil.  This is more effective in sandy than heavy soils, so you may find that the winter of snow and spring rains have helped the soil considerably.  But it won't bring your dead plants back to life.

Northen gardeners have to deal with salt on their roads, driveway and walks every year so you may find this article in Canadian Gardening Magazine helpful. There is a reference in that article to research done at the Ohio State University into salt tolerant plants with a link to a list of salt tolerant plants.  Not all of the plants on that list are native to your area, but you will find a list of some that are in a recently answered question about shrubs and trees here on Ask Mr. Smarty Plants. Another northern reference can be found here in a Minnesota publication recommending plants for boulevards (again salt and drought tolerance is a bonus). Although you can usually find suggestions for plants native to your area by using the Combination Search function on our Native Plant Database, it will not sort a list according to salt tolerance.  So you may want to cross check the lisst in the articles or visit your local nursery to see what salt tolerant plants they offer and then check our database to see if they are native to your area.

A few that are:

Armeria maritima (Thrift seapink)

Gaillardia pulchella (Firewheel)

Achillea millefolium (Common yarrow)

Phlox paniculata (Fall phlox)

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Thrift seapink
Armeria maritima

More Drought Tolerant Questions

Native plants for a school garden in Austin
May 14, 2009 - We are starting a native garden at our school in Central Austin, what native plants and flowers would be best to plant? The area we are planting faces east. We also need drought tolerant plants becau...
view the full question and answer

Shade loving plants with color for Irving, Texas
July 01, 2010 - Looking for shade loving perennials or annuals with color - native and low water. Live in Irving, Texas.
view the full question and answer

Low Ground Cover for Steep, Shaded PA Site
February 17, 2014 - I am located in Downingtown, PA, right on the border between Zone 6 and 7. Please provide a recommendation of a native ground cover for the following conditions: steep slope (greater than 45%), full s...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping plant for Austin
September 01, 2011 - Great site! Have gotten lots of ideas. We're about to start construction on a fairly major landscaping project: raised beds/privacy screen. We're at the top of a hill in the Hill Country just wes...
view the full question and answer

Water-wise plants for clay soil in southern California
September 26, 2013 - My yard is clay. I'm removing turf to put in water-wise plants and bushes. I need some low growing bushes and medium height bushes that will grow in clay and that will stay green in the summer. Hopef...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.