Life on the coast may feel carefree to tourists, but it can be demanding for greenery and seaside gardeners. Plants that thrive seaside are ones that tolerate salt spray and an accumulation of salt in soil, which helps to create high pH or alkaline chemistry. Most garden plants prefer a pH that is close to being evenly balanced between acid and alkaline conditions. But, similar to many desert species, coastal plants stand up to alkalinity. Aside from being salty, soil on and near beaches usually is sandy and shallow; it's loose, flyaway stuff that lacks organic matter to retain moisture and build fertility. When coastal winds pick up speed, they test plants by whipping foliage back and forth and flinging sand at it. So seaside plants need to bend without breaking and put up with abrasion. They also have to handle intense sunlight and bouts of severe heat, which are characteristic of coastal growing conditions. Often, plants that do well with all these extremes are short ones with drought-resistant foliage, including hairy or succulent leaves that help retain moisture. Whether you want short, pretty groundcovers or taller plants for your coastal garden and whether you live near the beach or a bit further inland, Flowers by the Sea offers seaside plants online to meet your growing conditions.
(Mexican Loosestrife) The tempting, purple-to-magenta flowers of Cuphea aff. aequipetala attract butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds as well as gardeners who love color. Abundant blossoms flare into six-petal corollas at the end of long, cylindrical flowers.
(David Verity Cigar Plant) Cuphea flowers are hummingbird magnets, especially the orange-red blooms of the David Verity hybrid. The blossoms have been likened to cigars due to their tubular shape and hot coloring that ends with a slightly flared and fringed yellow opening instead of petals.
(Kristen's Delightful Cigar Plant) Hummingbirds and butterflies love Cupheas. Kristen's Delightful Cigar Plant is a spectacularly colorful hybrid that is also a magnet for gardeners who love the pastels and abundance of its bicolor flowers.
(Tower of Jewels) Houston, we are ready for blastoff! Excuse us, but the floriferous Tower of Jewels is so huge that it looks like a model rocket rising up from a columnar launch pad of narrow-leafed, silvery foliage.
(Lion's Ear or Wild Dagga) "Leon" is Greek for "lion," whereas "otis" translates as "ear." The appellation "leonurus" equals "lion colored." Actually, we think the tawny orange blossoms of this mint family (Lamiaceae) species look more like a lion's mane.
(Mint Lion's Ear or Klipp Dagga) Here's another plant for Dr. Seuss gardens. Mint Lion's Ear produces intermittent, shaggy whorls of fuzzy, rosy orange tubular flowers that butterflies and hummingbirds love. The blossoms burst from prickly, round clusters on stems as tall and slender as auto antennas.
(Island Pitcher Sage) Native to shady canyons on the coast of Southern California's Channel Islands, this threatened species is highly desirable for its ruggedness, its aromatic furry leaves and its spectacular pink flowers.
(Blue African Sage or Blousalie) A handsome, densely branched shrub with small, gray leaves, this Salvia puts on a show when in full bloom. The pale blue flowers bloom on foot-long spikes that cover the plant. Each flower has a large, trumpet-shaped, green-and-red bract at its base.
(Sacred White Sage) Bees, hummingbirds and spiritual blessings are all connected to Salvia apiana, an elegant shrubby sage that is an important herb to indigenous Californians. It deserves a place in salvia gardens that can meet its demands. Stiff and almost fleshy, its leaves are tight rosettes of brilliant, silvery green that is almost white.
(Vicki Romo White Sage) A hybrid of two of California’s best drought-resistant native sages, Salvia apiana x clevelandii ‘Vicki Romo’ has foliage similar to that of White Sage (Salvia apiana) and darker lavender flowers than those of Cleveland Sage (Salvia clevelandii).
(Tree Sage)Whether you call it a shrub or a tree, Salvia arborsecens rises up to an impressive 12 feet tall and 5 feet wide. Commonly known as Sage Tree, this Salvia grows well in full sun, but prefers partial shade.
(Cut Leaf African Blue Sage) In botanical names, aurita means “ear shaped.” It’s the ear-like lobes of this sage’s leaves that give the species part of its name Salvia aurita ssp. galpinii. The cut leaf foliage is heavily lobed, mint green and lightly hairy.
(Pacific Blue Sage) Whorls of deep lavender-blue flowers contrast brightly against the dark maroon stems of this likely hybrid of Salvia brandegeei and Salvia munzii.
(Cedros Island Sage) From the Island of Cedars off the coast of Baja California Sur comes this delightful xeric sage with deep violet-blue flowers and silvery foliage. The square-shaped, 1-inch-long leaves are densely covered with downy, short, white hairs providing moisture retention.
(Pink Mexican Bush Sage) Although native to Mexico and Central America, this elegant variety of Salvia leucantha was hybridized in South Africa. It is compact, long blooming and profusely covered by soft pink flowers surrounded by velvety white bracts.
(Midnight Mexican Bush Sage) The typical Mexican Bush Sage has purple flowers surrounded by furry white bracts. This clone from the San Francisco Peninsula has deep purple flowers, calyxes and stems. It is a good groundcover due to a mounding habit, smaller size and generous amounts of flowers.
(Santa Barbara Mexican Bush Sage) This compact Mexican Bush Sage was found in the Santa Barbara garden of Kathiann Brown. It is, without a doubt, the finest short Mexican Bush Sage -- hardy, tough and long blooming. Add drought tolerance and dark, rich purple flowers to its list of merits.
(White Mischief Mexican Bush Sage) Profuse white blossoms and true white velvety bracts make the flowers of this South African hybrid a lovely choice for a wedding. In our experience, many of the plants sold as White Mischief are not the real thing. This tough, compact, long blooming sage is.
(Spreading California Purple Sage or Spreading California Gray Sage) Songbirds love this California native as do honeybees and hummingbirds. This Salvia leucophylla clone was collected in 1982 by Dr. Dale Smith of University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB #82152) at Point Sal near Santa Barbara.