Share

The Salt Tolerant Garden

De-icers, often sodium chloride, can pose a challenge for plants near roadways, sidewalks and other hardscape areas.

De-icers, often sodium chloride, can pose a challenge for plants near roadways, sidewalks and other hardscape areas. Spray from plows and vehicles, and run off leaches into the soil. High salt levels in the soil interrupt water uptake by the plant often resulting in dieback of the stem or buds, discolored or scorched foliage, stunted or reduced plant growth, early fall defoliation and plant death. Not all plants are impacted to the same extent by these salts. Salt threshold levels for plants will vary by species as well as by environmental stresses, such as drought, temperature, sunlight, wind, etc.

Choosing Plants for Salt Areas
Plants with moderate to high tolerance for salt are important to select for areas where de-icer salt will be used. The following tables from the University of Minnesota are examples of high and moderate salt tolerant herbaceous plants. In addition to those, we have found the following to be salt tolerant: Geranium, Coreopsis, Veronica, Gaillardia  Blanket flower, Achillea 'Moongold' and Iberis sempervirens Candytuft.

Herbaceous Plants with High Salt Tolerance
Aquilegia micrantha - Cliff columbine
Calamagrostis acutifolia 'Karl Foerster' - Karl Foerster reed grass
Dianthus pulminarious 'Allwood' - Helen Allwood pinks
Dianthus x 'Little Boy Blue' - Little Boy Blue pinks
Dianthus gratianopolitanus - Spotti pinks
Lotus corniculatus - Bird's foot trefoil
Machaeranthera xylorrhiza - Common woody aster
Schizachyrium scoparium - Little bluestem
Waldsteinia fragarioides - Barren strawberry

Herbaceous Plants with Moderate Salt Tolerance
Artemisia schmidtiana 'Sliver Mound' - Silver mound estuca a
Festuca 'Elijah Blue' - Elijah Blue estuca grass
Hosta spp - Hosta
Hemerocallis 'Stella d'Oro' - Stella d'oro daylily
Hemerocallis fulva - Tawny daylily
Helleborus orientalis - Lenten rose
Heuchera micrantha 'Palace Purple' - Palace Purple coral bells
Oenothera caespitosa - Evening primrose
Sedum spectabile 'Autumn Joy' - Sedum 'Autumn Joy'
Sphaeralcea coccinea - Prairie mallow
Yucca glauca - Soapweed
   
Our Salt Tolerant Garden is located 5 feet off the main road running parallel to it for 250 feet. The garden was designed to highlight herbaceous perennials that are tolerant of salt that is applied to the road during the winter months for snow and ice.