Salt Tolerant Plant Material

When designing or selecting plant material for a City Parkette or garden the information on plant material that will tolerate salt and salt spray has been lacking. Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association has published a small Survival Guide for the professional. It contains a list of Trees and Shrubs that will tolerate salt and breaks them down into the categories of High Salt Tolerance, Moderate Salt Tolerance and Low Salt Tolerance. This has been very helpful but the gap is now what perennials will tolerate salt.

After five years of study Laura Deeter an Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute researcher has released a short list of Perennials that are, salt tolerant. The following perennials have proved to have a High Salt Tolerance.

These Perennials will have a High Salt Tolerance

  • Armeria maritima (Sea Thrift)
  • Calmagrostis acutifolia 'Karl Foerster' (Karl Foerster Reed Grass)
  • Dianthus pulminarius x allwoodii (Helen Allwood Pinks)
  • Elymus arenarius (Blue Lyme Grass)
  • Pennisetum alopecuroides (Fountain Grass)

Perennials Shown to be Moderately Salt Tolerant

  • Artemisia absinthium x Powis Castle (Powis Castle Artemisia)
  • Artemisia schmidtiana 'Silver Mound' (Silver Mound Artemisia)
  • Festuca sp. 'Elijah Blue' (Elijah Blue Festuca Grass)
  • Hosta plantaginea (Hosta)
  • Limomium latifolium (Sea Lavender)
  • Hemerocallis hybrida 'Stella d'Oro (Stella D'Oro Daylily)
  • Sedum spectabile 'Autumn Joy' (Sedum Autumn Joy)
  • Liriope spicata (Lilyturf)
  • Heuchera micrantha 'Palace Purple' (Palace Purple Coral Bells)

The following Trees and Shrubs are selected from Landscape Ontario's Survival Guide for Professionals.

Trees and Shrubs with High Salt Tolerance

  • Fraxinus americana (Green Ash)
  • Gelditsia triacanthos (Shademaster Locust)
  • Larix species (Larch)
  • Picea pungens (Colorado Spruce)
  • Pinus nigra (Austrian Pine)
  • Pyrus species (Ornamental Pears)
  • Populus grandidentata (Large Toothed Aspen)
  • Quercus rubra (Red Oak)
  • Caragana arborescens (Siberian Pea)
  • Juniperus species (Junipers)
  • Lonicera species (Honeysuckle)
  • Spiraea x Vanhouttei (Bridlewreath Spirea)
  • Symphoricarpus species (Snowberry)
  • Syringa species (Lilacs)

Trees and Shrubs with Moderate Salt Tolerance

  • Acer Saccharinum (Silver Maple)
  • Betula papyrifera (Paper Birch)
  • Catalpa species (Catalpa)
  • Picea abies (Norway Spruce)
  • Tilia americana (Basswood)
  • Acer ginnala (Shrub Maple)
  • Buxus microphylla (Boxwood)
  • Forsythia x intermedia (Forsythia)
  • Philadelphus species (Mockorange)
  • Pyracantha species (Firethorn)
  • Viburnum trilobum (Cranberry Viburnum)

Armed with this information we should now be able to better design the gardens near our driveways, streets and public areas where salting is necessary to enable public access in our far to long winters.

For more information on salt-tolerant plants see this article by John Morely.