A place by the ocean is lovely all by itself, with the beach just steps away from the front door, but a garden so close to the ocean brings special challenges. For one thing, the plants may need to stand up to some strong winds, and for another, they need to be salt tolerant. Fortunately, there is a great variety of beautiful coastal plants that are just the thing for a seaside landscape. Here are a few:

Plants For a Seaside Landscape



This plant is not only an excellent choice for a seaside garden, but it’s also an herb that can be used in cooking. It’s a perennial, which means it lives for a long time, and if it’s treated well it can grow to a shrub that’s about 4 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Because of this, a few rosemary plants can make a good hedge. In the summer, it produces dainty blue flowers.

Rosemary loves the full sun that comes with growing near the beach and the year-long warmth of the sun that shines on southern California. It thrives in sandy, loamy soil that’s a bit acidic or neutral.

Sea Holly

This interesting plant has tiny flowers that come in blue or blue green balls surrounded by spiny bracts. It gets its name not just because it grows by the sea but because its leaves resemble those of the holly tree. This plant thrives in salty air and wind, flowers in the summer and grows from 1 to 3 feet tall. It does best in full sun and a dry soil that’s part sand and part loam. It’s not only good for the garden but is an interesting part of floral arrangements.


This flower is prized for its round clusters of white, pink or rose-colored flowers that grow on stiff stems above grass-like leaves. These leaves stay green throughout the seasons. Thrifts grow from 6 inches to 2 feet high depending on the variety and blossom in spring or summer. Like rosemary and sea holly, it does best in sandy loam that drains well and full sun. These plants are best planted about a foot apart. Since older clumps tend to die out in the centers, the plants should be divided every three or four years.


Also called blanket flower, this plant produces big, daisy-like flowers in combinations of maroon, red or yellow. They rise above leaves that are themselves attractive. Gaillardia flowers from summer through the fall and grows from 1 to 3 feet high. Like many other seaside plants, it likes well-drained soil and full sunlight. The flowers are good for arrangements and can tolerate conditions that are especially dry, hot and salty.


Given is name because it was supposed to ward off fleas, this tough plant has flowers that resemble the aster, with dozens of tiny, blue, lavender or pink rays. The center of the flower is a contrasting yellow. Fleabane grows from1 1/2 to 2 feet high and does best in well-drained, loamy soil and full sun. Fleabane seedlings should be planted 18 inches apart, and the plants self seeds or can be propagated by division during the spring.

Viper’s Bugloss

This plant has clusters of trumpet-shaped blue or violet flowers with contrasting red or purple stamens and a red style. The flowers rise in branches above leaves that reminded people of viper’s tongues and give the plant part of its name. It’s a biennial, which means it lasts only two years, but the plant self seeds so abundantly that it might as well be a perennial. It is rather notorious for preferring places that are dry, sandy and sunny, including abandoned places and old railroads. The plant grows from 1 to 3 feet tall.


Mullein produces spikes of small, flat, white or yellow and purple flowers in the summer. It grows as high as 8 feet tall. The spikes of flowers, which are branched, rise up from rosettes made of fuzzy, glaucous leaves. This gives the mullein its other name of “flannel leaf plant.” Mullein flourishes in full sun but can also do well in partial shade. It also loves alkaline soil. Besides being a pretty seaside plant, mullein is also valued for its medicinal properties.


There are gardeners who claim that daylilies can grow anywhere, including near the ocean. These plants aren’t related to true lilies but have been cultivated to come in all manner of colors save blue and pure white. The flowers can be ruffled, single, double or triple, and though each spectacular flower only lasts a day, it is quickly replaced by another and another.

Daylilies are easy to take care of and when they’re planted together they’ll produce a beautiful ground cover in short time. They should be planted in the spring or the fall, and though they love the sun, they’ll do well in some light shade. The flowers grow from 1 to 4 feet tall and like well-drained, loamy soil.

Sea Oats

Sea oats don’t need any coaxing to grow by the ocean, for they grow naturally on the sand dunes in the southeastern United States and keep them stable. While it may be illegal in some areas to pick sea oats in the wild, the seeds can be bought perfectly legally at the local nursery. Once planted, sea oats aren’t fussy and need average soil and watering, though the ground should be kept a bit moist. They do well in full sun to partial sun and can grow as high as 6 feet. To keep sea oats from becoming a bit unruly, it’s a good idea to collect the seeds before they can be broadcast.


This plant is also known as the torch lily because its clusters of yellow, orange, red and cream colored flowers held aloft on stiff stems look like flames. Some say they resemble very large pieces of candy corn. The flowers arrive in summer and contrast beautifully with the plant’s grayish green leaves. Kniphofia not only has an unusual beauty, but attracts hummingbirds. Though torch lilies can be grown near the ocean, they do need to be protected from the wind. They do best in full sun and sandy soil that’s well-drained.

For more information on how to create a beautiful California landscape by the sea, get in touch with the professionals at our Santa Cruz landscaping company.