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What Plants Live on the Seashore?

beach image by Amjad Shihab from

Plants that grow on seashores have an extensive series of adaptations that allow them to tolerate salinity, sandy soils and harsh exposure to the elements. Though many different types of plants will thrive in coastal gardens near the shore, only a select few unique plants live directly on the seashore.

Seashore Palm

Seashore palm (Allagoptera arenaria) is an evergreen palm native to the Atlantic coast of Brazil. The tree is on the small side, reaching a maximum height of about 6 feet. The unusual palm has no visible trunk; the plant simply has long silvery green palm fronds. Seashore palm is highly tolerant of extreme coastal conditions and is a popular ornamental throughout South America. The plant may be cultivated in full sunlight or light-dappled shade in USDA zones 10 and 11. Seashore palm requires a very well-draining, sandy soil. The plant is moderately drought tolerant, but should be watered and fertilized frequently throughout the summer to promote healthy leaf growth.

Sea Lavender

Sea lavender (Limonium latifolium) is a low-growing flowering perennial that reaches an average height of approximately 2 feet. The plant has light green, wiry foliage and small blooms, which appear in the summer in shades of white, lavender or blue. As its common name suggests, sea lavender is well suited to the seashore and will grow directly in sand. The plant must have well-draining, sandy soil in order to thrive. Sea lavender will look its best in full sunlight in USDA zones 7 to 9. The drought tolerant, sun loving plant requires no supplemental watering. The pretty flowers of the plant are ideal for long-lasting dried flower arrangements.

Fairy Fanflower

Fairy fanflower (Scaevola aemula) is a seashore plant native to the sandy coastal dunes of Eastern Australia. The plant has a loose, sprawling habit and rarely reaches heights of above 2 feet. The demure lilac, blue or white fan-shaped flowers of the plant, coupled with the attractive oval leaves, has made fairy fanflower a popular ground cover. Fairy fanflower is also ideal for a hanging basket or container where its foliage can hang over the sides.The plant is best suited to a sunny or slightly shady location in USDA zones 9 to 11. Fairy fanflower requires an extremely well-draining sandy soil. The drought tolerant plant needs no additional watering, and can largely be left alone.

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