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Herbaceous flowers, ground cover and architectural plants that will tolerate exposed coastal planting

Below is a mixed listing of wind hardy salt tolerant compact herbaceous flowering plants and tough spiky foliage evergreens, or architectural plants as we like to call them. The advantage most (but not all) herbaceous plants have in coastal planting is that they will die back each autumn and can sit out much of the winter storm damage.

Many of these plants are low growing while also have thick waxy leaves that reduce moisture loss, having an ability which is further improved by fine grey hairs which lock in leaf moisture and give the leaf a silvery appreance. Some plants have spiky foliage that the wind can whip around. Many simply hug the ground producing low mats of moisture efficient ground cover.

As with all other herbaceous plants you will need to put some time into mulching around plants after planting with compost to improve soil fertility as well as lock in soil moisture and keep back weed growth. Mulching is especially useful on often dry and sandy coastal soils as they tend to be nutrient poor and free draining; the role of the compost is to overcome some of the worst effects of dry coastal soils.

Many of these plants will also require lifting and dividing to encourage rejuvenated growth and flowering and stacking will be especially important to stop taller wind exposed plants from collapsing in stiff sea breezes.


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Latin &
Common Name
EarmarkType & FormFlowers & Foliage
Phormium - Yellow Wave - New Zealand FlaxPhormium

'Yellow Wave'

New Zealand Flax
Grass, Ground cover, Container-friendly, SpikeyNon-flowering
Centranthus ruber - Valerian, CentranthusCentranthus ruber

Valerian, Centranthus
Herbaceous Flowers, Upright - ClumpDark pink flowers (Summer)
Stachys officinalis - Common BetonyStachys officinalis

Common Betony
Herbaceous Flowers, Spreading clumpDark pink flowers (Summer)
Yucca filamentosa - Bright Edge - Adams needleYucca filamentosa

'Bright Edge'

Adam's needle
Shrub, Container-friendly, SpikeyWhite flowers (Summer)
Eryngium bougatti - Picos Blue - EryngiumEryngium bougatti

'Picos Blue'

Eryngium
Herbaceous Flowers, Upright - ClumpBlue-silver flowers (Summer)
Thymus vulgaris - ThymeThymus vulgaris

Thyme
Herbaceous Flowers, Herbs, Ground cover, Alpine, Culinary, Container-friendly, SpreadingWhite flowers (Summer)
Agapanthus Kingstone BlueAgapanthus Kingstone Blue Herbaceous Flowers, Container-friendly, SpikeyDark blue flowers (Summer)
Parahebe catarractae - Blue FormParahebe catarractae

Blue Form
Shrub, Ground cover, Alpine, Container-friendly, SpreadingDark blue flowers (Summer late)
Kniphofia linearifoliaKniphofia linearifolia Herbaceous Flowers, SpikeyOrange flowers (Summer)
Osteospermum - Lady Leitrim - OsteospermumOsteospermum

'Lady Leitrim'

Osteospermum
Herbaceous Flowers, Container-friendly, Rounded - ClumpWhite flowers (Summer)


You can use our plant-finder to find plants that match your garden conditions exactly, for example Herbaceous flowers, ground cover and architectural plants that will tolerate exposed coastal planting - click to give it a try!

Have you seen our other plant top ten recommendations?