Tropical Plants Near the Water

Growing tropical plants near the water poses a special challenge. Tropical plants often do not tolerate cold weather or freezing temperatures, and the coastal environment includes issues of wind and salt. Coastal winds are hard on vegetation, and salt deposits on plants and soil salinity are additional factors to consider when choosing coastal landscape plants. Plants bought in an inland local nursery, in the same region, won't necessarily be good choices for a yard near the water. Some species are more suited to windy and salty environments than others.


Wedelia (Wedelia trilobata) is a creeping, perennial, ground cover that reaches a height of 12 inches. Wedelia has 4-inch, simple leaves and 1.5 inch, yellow, daisy-like flowers that appear throughout the year. Wedelia is good for use on banks and slopes. Grow Wedelia in full sun or partial shade on a wide range of soils. Wedelia should be mowed or clipped occasionally to maintain its appearance. This plant does not tolerate long droughts and is hardy to USDA zones 8b to 11.

Bougainvillea Spectabilis

Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea spectabilis) is an evergreen, sprawling vine usefully grown over arbors, walls and fences. It is not a climbing vine, but is called a "clambering" vine. Bougainvillea is variable in size, depending on how it is allowed to grow. Bougainvillea has 2 to 4 inch long leaves and cream-colored flowers with very showy bracts (petal-like). The 2-inch long bracts surround the flowers and vary in color from rose, rust-red, and purple. Grow Bougainvillea in full sun for the best flowering. Bougainvillea prefers a well-drained, sandy soil and is hardy to zone 9.

Mound-lily Yucca

Mound-lily yucca (Yucca gloriosa), also known as Spanish dagger, is an evergreen shrub with a rounded, coarse texture, growing up to 8 feet tall, with a 6 foot spread. Its sword-like, 2.5 inch long leaves are spirally arranged around its stem. Showy, white clusters of fragrant flowers bloom in the summer. Yucca is a durable plant, and needs a full sun location and well drained soil. Mound-lily yucca is not as salt tolerant as Spanish boyonet (Yucca aloifolia). Yucca gloriosa is hardy to zone 8.


Purslane (Portulaca grandiflora), also known as moss rose, is an evergreen perennial often used as an annual bedding plant. It is a low-growing succulent with a branching, trailing form, reaching a height up to 12 inches. Its simple leaves are fleshy and light green and flowers vary from red, yellow, orange or white, about 1 inch across. Purslane flowers only open with sunshine, but are prolific bloomers. Grow purslane in full sun on various well-drained soils, and is hardy to zone 9. Purslane will rot in wet soil conditions.

Keywords: Plants near water, Coastal plants, Seashore plants

About this Author

Marie Roberts is a freelance writer based in north central Florida. She has a B.S. in horticultural sciences from the University of Florida. Roberts began writing in 2002 and is published in the "Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society."