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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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

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Sunday - December 18, 2011

From: Cape Coral, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Soils, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Plants resistant to salt spray in FL
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

What type of plants can I put in a small planter bed next to a waterfall with a saltwater pool? Everything I put in there dies. I live in Southwest Florida.

ANSWER:

Your situtation is a really tough one.  There are plants that are adapted to a "salty" environment near the ocean where the groundwater can be brackish and there is a certain amount of salt in the air so you will have to choose the toughest of that group.

If you visit the website of the Florida Native Plant Society you will find a county map.  You can select your county (Lee) and it will generate a list of plants native to your county.  The plants' salt tolerance is one of the characteristics that are noted in the chart.  You will want to choose only from those with a Big S as the conditions of your planter are more extreme than those in nature near the ocean or in a salty marsh.

Here are a few perennials and grasses that might work for you (grasses are generally quite tough and can be quite ornamental)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)

Cladium mariscus ssp. jamaicense (Jamaica swamp sawgrass)

Gaillardia pulchella (Firewheel)

Gossypium hirsutum (Upland cotton)

Helianthus debilis (Beach sunflower)

Ipomoea imperati (Beach morning glory)

Teucrium canadense (Canada germander)

Uniola paniculata (Sea oats)

There are quite a few shrubs that are salt tolerant as well, if your planter bed is large enough to accomodate them.

You can also refer to this list of salt tolerant plants for Florida issued by the University of Florida IFAS Extension, keeping in mind that not all the plants on this list are native to Florida. 

 

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Jamaica swamp sawgrass
Cladium mariscus ssp. jamaicense

Indian blanket
Gaillardia pulchella

Upland cotton
Gossypium hirsutum

Beach sunflower
Helianthus debilis

Beach morning-glory
Ipomoea imperati

Canada germander
Teucrium canadense

Sea oats
Uniola paniculata

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