Inside The New York Botanical Garden

Storm Clean-Up 101: Salt-Tolerant Plants

Posted in Gardening Tips on March 18 2013, by Jody Payne

Hibiscus syriacus 'Aphrodite'On the heels of Sonia Uyterhoeven’s informative series on post-hurricane garden recovery, Jody Payne, the Director of both our Rock Garden and the soon-to-reopen Native Plant Garden, offers a listing of hardy and salt-tolerant plants worth including in your garden or landscape. With proper planning and a solid understanding of the conditions facing these new inclusions, this supplement should put you on the path to a sturdier coastal planting–not to mention less storm season stress.

“Salt tolerance is a relative term,” Payne adds. “Some of the recommended species here would be better sited away from prevailing winds, perhaps sheltered by a building or hill. This list is meant to open ideas for which plants are salt tolerant, but choices should be further researched based on the actual conditions of your site.”

This is quite a long list, but it’s intended to show you just how wide-open your options are when it comes to planting a coastal or near-sea plot. Head below for the many tree, shrub, annual, and perennial species available, and stay tuned in the coming weeks for a follow-up from Travis Beck, the NYBG’s Landscape and Garden Projects Manager.

Have questions we haven’t answered yet? Leave them in the comments! With access to some of the finest horticultural minds in the country, if not the world, we’re more than happy to help you with your post-Sandy gardening conundrums.

Trees & Shrubs

Hydrangea macrophylla 'Endless Summer'
Amelanchier canadensis — Shadbush Amorpha fruticosa — False indigo-bush Aucuba japonica — Spotted laurel
Carya ovata — Shagbark hickory Catalpa speciosa — Northern catalpa Chaenomeles speciosa — Flowering quince
Clethra alnifolia — Sweet pepperbush Comptonia peregrina — Sweetfern Cotoneaster species
Daphne odora — Winter daphne Forsythia spp. Forsythia x intermedia — Border forsythia
Gymnocladus dioicus — Kentucky coffeetree Hamamelis virginiana — Witch-hazel Hibiscus syriacus — Rose of Sharon
Hydrangea macrophylla — Bigleaf hydrangea Hydrangea spp. Hypericum spp.
Ilex cornuta — Chinese holly Ilex glabra — Inkberry Juglans cinerea — White walnut
Juglans nigra — Eastern black walnut Juniperus chinensis — Chinese juniper Juniperus conferta — Shore juniper
Juniperus horizontalis — Creeping juniper Juniperus procumbens — Japanese garden juniper Juniperus virginiana — Red juniper
Larix decidua — European larch Larix laricina — American larch Lespedeza bicolor — Shrubby bushclover
Ligustrum japonicum — Japanese privet Liquidambar styraciflua — Sweetgum Magnolia grandiflora — Southern magnolia
Mahonia bealei — Leatherleaf mahonia Oxydendrum arboreum — Sorrel tree Picea pungens — Blue spruce
Pinus mugo — Mugo pine Potentilla fruticosa — Shrubby cinquefoil Prunus caroliniana — Cherry laurel
Pyracantha coccinea — Scarlet firethorn Quercus alba — White oak Quercus phellos — Willow oak
Quercus robur — English oak Rhodotypos scandens — Jetbead Robinia hispida — Bristly locust
Robinia pseudoacacia — Black locust Rosa rugosa — Rugosa rose Sambucus canadensis — American elderberry
Spiraea spp. Styrax japonicas — Japanese snowbell Symphoricarpos albus — Snowberry
Syringa patula ‘Miss Kim’ — Miss Kim Korean lilac Syringa pekinensis — Pekin lilac Syringa reticulata — Japanese tree lilac
Tamarix ramosissima — Saltcedar Taxodium distichum — Bald cypress Ulmus parvifolia — Lacebark elm
Vitex agnus-castus — Chasteberry



Allamanda cathartica 'Hendersonii'
Allamanda cathartica — Golden trumpet Aptenia cordifolia — Heartleaf ice plant Bougainvillea glabra — Paper flower/lesser bougainvillea
Carissa macrocarpa — Natal plum Cuphea hyssopifolia — False heather Drosanthemum hispidum — Hairy dewflower
Ficus pumila — Creeping fig Ipomoea pescaprae — Beach morning glory Ipomoea stolonifera — Fiddle-leaf morning glory
Lampranthus productus — Purple ice plant Malephora crocea — Coppery mesemb Tecomaria capensis — Cape honeysuckle
Trachelospermum jasminoides — Star jasmine Tradescantia pallida — Purple heart Zamia integrifolia — Florida arrowroot



Asclepias tuberosa
Acorus americanus — American sweet flag Alisma plantago-aquatica — Common water-plantain Ammophila brevigulata — American beachgrass
Asclepias incarnata — Swamp milkweed Asclepias tuberosa — Butterfly weed Baptisia australis — Blue wild indigo
Cakile edentula — Sea rocket Caltha palustris — Marsh marigold Carex stricta — Tussock sedge
Coreopsis verticillata — Thread-leaf coreopsis Crinum species Delosperma ‘Alba’
Delosperma cooperi — Trailing ice plant Delosperma nubigenum — Hardy ice plant Distichlis spicata — Seashore saltgrass
Eupatorium album — White thoroughwort Hedychium species Hesperaloe parviflora — Red yucca
Heuchera americana — Alumroot Hibiscus moscheutos — Rose mallow Iberis sempervirens — Evergreen candytuft
Iris versicolor — Blue flag Juncus gerardii — Blackgrass Juncus militaris — Bayonet rush
Kosteletzkya virginica — Seashore mallow Lathyrus maritimus — Sea pea Lechea maritima — Beach pinweed
Leersia oryzoides — Rice cutgrass Limonium carolinianum — Lavender thrift Maianthemum canadense — Canada mayflower
Monarda fistulosa — Wild bergamot Nipponanthemum nipponicum — Nippon daisy Nuphar lutea — Yellow pond-lily
Nymphaea odorata — American white waterlily Oenothera biennis — Common evening primrose Opuntia humifusa — Eastern prickly pear
Panicum amarum — Bitter panicgrass Panicum virgatum — Switchgrass Peltandra virginica — Green arrow arum
Pontederia cordata — Pickerelweed Rudbeckia fulgida — Orange coneflower Sagittaria latifolia — Broadleaf arrowhead
Saururus cernuus — Lizard’s tail Schizachyrium scoparium — Little bluestem Scirpus pungens — Common threesquare
Scirpus atrovirens — Green bulrush Scirpus maritimus — Cosmopolitan bulrush Scirpus robustus — Sturdy bulrush
Scirpus tabernaemontani — Softstem bulrush Solidago sempervirens — Seaside goldenrod Sparganium americanum — American bur-reed
Sparganium eurycarpum — Broadfruit bur-reed Spartina alterniflora — Smooth cordgrass Spartina patens — Saltmeadow cordgrass
Spartina pectinata — Prairie cordgrass Symphyotrichum novi-belgii — New York aster Thelypteris palustris — Marsh fern
Typha latifolia — Broadleaf cattail Typha angustifolia — Narrowleaf cattail


Gina Dubner said:

Apparently, not roses. The storm surge was about 6-7 feet deep on my street in Oceanside, although the water drained within hours. I just planted four bare root roses from j and p about a week and a half ago, and they are already dead. My existing bushes are dead or close to it, although my mini rose bush and two of my hybrid teas that had previously reverted to rootstock seem to be leafing out. So is my zephyr in drouhin (leafing out). The gardener laid seed down on the lawn, all of which is just laying there on the surface like a lox, not sprouting at all. We cannot spare $275 for soil testing. Thank you, Sandy.

shelley winkler said:

thank you for all the information. i live in far rockaway, queens and my garden was totally inundated with about 2-3 feet of water during hurricane sandy. now that things are budding, i see that a lot of my plants are coming back. the appearance of lots of dafoddils gave me hope for the rest of my garden. looks like all my peonies and tree peonies survived thank G-d. there are buds on my hydrangeas, peach trees, azaleas and most of my roses have leafed out. however, i lost a lot of my evergreen shrubs and the forsythias have just a few yellow flowers. the rhododendrons are looking really bad. i’m wondering if you know whether my perrenials will survive. i have echinecia, heuchera, liatris, asian lillies, monarda, rudbeckia, asters, daylilies, rose mallow, hostas and lots of other perennials not on your list. the weather has been a little crazy this spring so i’m wondering if the perennials are just a little late or they will not be coming back at all due to the salt water and flood.

Miriam said:

I live by the water on south shore of Long Island… All our Leland’s and arbivadis died due to salt damage…40-50 trees… Can u recommend an evergreen shrub and trees for privacy that are salt tolerant
And not so expensive?

Sue S said:

My yard in Blue Point NY was covered with surge water. Storm ruined all my Blue Hollies (Ilex x meserveae), all the PJMs and rhodos. Killed all of the Leyland Cypress in far back yard & Hinoki Cypress, all of the painted fern, ajuga, all new perennials. What did recover well were the dwarf lilac, the viburnums, weigela, the upright blue spruce, beautyberry, all of the hostas, Little Bunny ornamental grass, all of the bulbs. The fothergilla & glossy abelia had tops killed but are coming back. As the storm-killed plants were big, hurricane cleanup is a big job removing dead material and filling in the gaps.

robert mcgrath said:

my aborvitaes turned brown (approx. 20 – 30 % of each one) after sandy. they are located on long beach island. is there anything i can do to save them ? your information would be greatly appreciated. also if not what would you suggest planting for use as a privacy hedge approx 6-10′ high. Thank you so much!

Bill Rambow said:

I live on Groton Long Point in SE CT. Our arborvitae privacy hedge died after the yard was flooded.

I am about to replant and would like a couple of options for another privacy hedge. I need about 8′ to be effective and would prefer something that is faster growing.

Can you make any suggestions?

Matt Newman said:

Hi all. I’m gathering your questions and submitting them to some of our horticulture experts to try and get you some answers, however belatedly. Thanks for your patience!

Rick Schneider said:

If you have a narrow space try a privet hedge, deciduous but dense branching gives you privacy. It may take a few years for the results you want.

I you have space for width growth try American Holly, Cryptomeria, Colorado Spruce and Eastern Red Cedar. All are evergreen. Salt spray is different from salt water flooding. If you had salt water flooding unfortunately all will die except American Holly which grows in Fire Island. This Holly may drop their leave but will rebound in the spring.

Stay away from Arborvitaes, Leyland Cypress and Skip Laurels.

Sarah Fischell said:

This reply is rather belated … But perhaps it will help others in the future. Our backyard was inundated w several feet of brackish water in Sandy. Plants that lived were well-established and are listed in all the books on seashore plants: false cypress (Hinoki etc), juniper, roses, crepe myrtle, lilacs, Colorado blue spruce (both tree and birds nest), red oak, privet hedge, Japanese holly, taxus, grasses, all bulbs, most perennials. What died: newly planted/transplanted items, fall blooming camellias, weeping spruce, dwarf pine, cherry laurel, forsythia, climbing hydrangea, a mature cut leaf maple. One surprise: my Leyland Cypress hedge lived. Many others in my area died. It is well established, regularly pruned/topped, and is used to drought and periodic brackish flooding.

Linh Pham said:

Does anyone have more information regarding the salt tolerance of Populus alba and Populus lenta? And any evergreen understory communities that would go well with them? Thanks so much!