Many homeowners in Southwest Florida live very near the Gulf of Mexico and other places with elevated salinity levels, which can adversely affect plant success. Wells that have experienced some degree of saltwater intrusion can also present planting challenges. It may be useful to test your well water and to take soil samples. We have found that many retail pool stores will test water at no charge. Non-potable or greywater usually does not present a salinity issue.
It is important to know that some of the data is contradictory depending on which references are used. Some plants do not have adequate information about their salinity tolerance levels. Take a look at which plants seem to do well in your neighborhood assuming that plant problems are not caused by an individual well. These plants should be used as an initial guide of plants that can withstand varying degrees of salinity; not as a complete catalog; and includes plants that are generally available.
Salt-tolerant plants are highly resistant to salt drift and can be used in exposed environments. Moderately salt-tolerant plants tolerate some salt spray but grow best when protected by buildings, fences or plantings of more salt-tolerant species. We have not included slightly-tolerant plants to keep this article more concise.
Salt-tolerant trees: Sweet-Acacia, Black Olive, Frangipani0, Geiger, Green & Silver Buttonwood, Gumbo-Limbo, Joewood, Jerusalem Thorn, Lignum Vitae, Live Oak, Pigeon Plum, Pitch Apple, Red Bay, Sand Pine, Satinleaf, Seagrape, Seaside Mahoe, Silver Trumpet, Southern Red Cedar, Spanish Stopper, Spiny Black Olive, Verawood, Yaupon Holly, Weeping Yaupon Holly.
Moderate Salt Tolerant Trees; Avocado, African Tulip, Bald Cypress, Barbados Cherry, Bottlebrush, Chaste, Citrus, Crape Myrtle, Dahoon Holly, Dwarf Poinciana, Dahoon Holly, East Palatka Holly, Fiddlewood, Golden Shower, Hong Kong Orchid, Laurel Oak, Loquat, Magnolia, Mahogany, Mango, Paradise, Pink Trumpet, Pond Apple, Pongam, Royal Poinciana, Slash Pine, Sweet Gum, Sycamore, Tamarind, Red Stopper, Slash Pine, Weeping Fig, Weeping Podocarpus, Willow Bustic.
Salt-Tolerant Palms/Palm Like: Areca, Bottle Palm, Cabbage, Christmas, Coconut, Hurricane, Saw Palmetto, Cardboard, Coconut, European Fan, Paurotis, Pindo, Queen, Royal, Screw Pine, Washington, Windmill
Moderate Salt-Tolerant Palms: Bismarck, Canary Island Date, Chinese Fan, Dioon Edule, Dioon Spinulosum, Dwarf Palmetto, Foxtail, Lady, Latan, Majesty, Needle Palm, Ponytail, Reclinata, Sago, White Bird of Paradise.
Salt-Tolerant Shrubs: Adam’s Needle, Bay Cedar, Blue Porterweed, Beach Sunflower, Beach Verbeena, Blanket Flower, Christmas Berry, Cocoplum, Coral Bean, Carissa Boxwood, Century Plant, Coontie, Copperleaf, Green Pittosporum, Giant Leather Fern, Golden Creeper, Green Buttonwood, Firecracker Plant, Florida Privet, Horsemint, Ilex Schillings, Inkberry, Jamaican Caper, Marlberry, Myrsine, Muhly Grass, Necklace Pod, Oleander, Pompas Grass, Prickly Pear Cactus, Rain Lily, Saltmeadow, Sand Cord Grass, Sea Lavendar, Sea Oats, Sea Oxeye Daisy, Seaside Goldenrod, Seven Year Apple, Shrub Verbeena, Silver Buttonwood, Simpson’s Stopper, Spanish Bayonet, Spider Lily, Varnish Leaf, Wax Myrtle, Yaupon Holly, Yellow Alder, Yellowtop
Moderate Salt-Tolerant Shrubs: Arbicola, Bahama Coffee, Bamboo, Butterfly Bush, Cape Honeysuckle, Crape Jasmine, Croton, Cordyline (Ti plants), Duranta Golden Dewdrop, Firebush, Galberry, Hibiscus, Indian Hawthorn, Ixora, Jade, King’s Mantle, Night Blooming Jasmine Pineapple Guava, Podocarpus Maki, Rose, Shell Ginger, Spicewood, Spineless Yucca, Texas Sage, Ti Plants, Yesterday-Today-Tomorrow (YTT).
Salt-Tolerant Ground Covers: Aloe, Beach Morning Glory, Blanket Flower, Blue Porterweed, Coontie, Dotted Horsemint, Golden Creeper, Muhly Grass, Pampas Grass, Purple Queen, Purslane, Railroad Vine, Rain Lily, Sea Oats, Shore Juniper, Spider Lily, Trailing Lantana, Verbena Beach, Yellowtop.
Medium Salt-Tolerant Ground Covers & Grasses: Aster Stokes, Butterfly Weed, Purple Coneflower, Tropical Red Sage, Sand Cord Grass, Cast Iron Plant, Daylily, Butterfly Ginger, Holly Fern, Parson’s Juniper, Kalanchoe, Liriope, Mondo Grass, Society Garlic, Spiral Ginger
Salt-Tolerant Vines: Blue Jacquemontia, Bougainvillea, Cape Honeysuckle, Night Blooming Cereus, Rubber.
Medium to Slightly Salt-Tolerant Vines: Allamanda, Chalice, Creeping Fig, Confederate, Corky-stem Passion, Downy Jasmine, Pink Mandevillea, Queen’s Wreath, Rangoon Creeper, Rangoon Creeper, Star Jasmine
Salt-Tolerant Plants for Florida, University of Florida, IFAS Extension, R.J. Black; ENF-26
Salinity Management Guide
Gardening Solutions, University of Florida IFAS