Salt-tolerant vegetation that may survive in road-salt-laced soil

Annually, in late autumn, I’m awoken in the midst of the evening by an enormous thump, adopted by shovelling noises. It’s the annual supply of an enormous yellow bin stuffed with street salt. I admire my municipality’s foresight and dedication, I do. I reside on a hill, on the sting of a steep cul-de-sac and issues get slick. Within the absence of an alternate, it’s needed. However inevitably, all that street salt will get washed into our storm drains and onto our properties. I’ve a backyard proper on the curb, so it will get a very good dousing each time a plow goes by, scraping up what’s been unfold onto the street. This obtained me enthusiastic about salt-tolerant vegetation.

Some issues have thrived in that little backyard, however others have actually shrivelled up and died. Was it due to an excessive amount of salt? I’ve tried to amend the soil, however it’s nonetheless fairly hard-packed and unforgiving.

A current press launch put out by the Soil Science Society of America about soils in winter led me to dig round on their website to research the results of salt. I found this text: Why ought to I watch out about utilizing salt on my driveway and sidewalks?

Then in my Twitter feed the opposite day, this text about how salt impacts wildlife on the WWF (World Wildlife Fund website) appeared.

I attempt to purchase extra eco-friendly de-icers, however I nonetheless really feel doubtful about sprinkling them up and down the driveway, up my walkway, and throughout my entrance steps. I as soon as ran out of salt and had a brainwave. I’d learn someplace that you possibly can use kitty litter. I grabbed a cup with out pondering—sadly it was the clumping form, which I don’t EVER advocate utilizing. It caught collectively in enormous, cement-like clumps and simply made an enormous previous mess. Not a very good second for me.

I discovered a fantastic article on this Soil Advocates web site that explores salt alternate options, like beet juice, cheese brine, and pickle juice. However till municipalities select one and shops readily inventory them, I’m caught with a salt-laced backyard.

Basically, soils with an excessive amount of salt aren’t in a position to retain plant vitamins, they don’t maintain as a lot water for vegetation, and a few are utterly poisonous to sure species of vegetation—therefore the poor specimens that didn’t survive my entrance backyard (amongst different causes).

In researching salt-tolerant vegetation, I found that I’ve really inadvertently planted fairly just a few of them in that backyard (go me!). This kinda makes up for my kitty litter debacle, proper? These are the vegetation which can be doing fairly effectively. For the lists under, I consulted a number of sources: a College of Vermont extension article, the Alberta Agriculture and Forestry ministry, an inventory from a professor of horticulture at Ohio State College who has accomplished analysis on salt-tolerant vegetation, in addition to just a few growers’ web sites that point out salt-tolerance within the vegetation they promote.

Listed below are the salt-tolerant vegetation that I’ve in my backyard

Sedum Autumn Pleasure (Autumn Stonecrop)
Average tolerance
I’ve this pretty, reliable fall bloomer, in addition to just a few different sedums that appear to love their sunny houses—even within the harsh soil circumstances of my entrance backyard. The bees love sedum flowers, and the vegetation are very easy to divide and transplant.
USDA zone 2-9

I inherited a few sedums with my backyard once I moved in, and have since added different varieties.

Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Average tolerance
I introduced my Asclepias tuberosa house from a plant sale for the monarch butterflies who occur upon my backyard. It took a few years for it to develop (apparently Butterfly Weed takes awhile to determine itself), however now the plant thrives in its probably salty location. It’s a low grower, not like its Widespread milkweed cousin, however it spreads outward and the colourful orange blooms look actually fairly subsequent to my spurge. In 2017, it was the Perennial Plant Affiliation’s Plant of the 12 months.
USDA zone Four-9

asclepias tuberosa

Native to japanese North America, butterfly weed is hardy sufficient to resist a reasonable quantity of salt.

Blanket Flower (Gaillardia)
Excessive salt tolerance
I actually get pleasure from Blanket Flower blooms, even after the petals have fallen off! They seem like one thing out of Dr. Seuss. In addition to their affinity for salt, these vegetation love the solar, are drought tolerant, and the deer don’t appear to trouble with them. Some varieties are extra compact, low to the bottom, and mounding, whereas others have blooms that attain 90 cm.
USDA zone Three-9


I’m undecided which selection that is, the plant sale tag merely stated Blanket Flower, however I actually benefit from the yellow-tipped petals and as soon as they’ve fallen off, they depart a pleasant little pom pom.

Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)
Average salt tolerance
I prefer to plant Russian sage in my raised beds as a result of it’s a bee magnet—and it simply appears to be like actually fairly swaying in a summer time breeze. However it additionally does effectively in that salty entrance backyard. It basks within the warmth and the solar, and may attain about 50 cm excessive. It’s a fantastic complement to chop flowers, like vibrant yellow coreopsis.
USDA zone Four-9

A number of extra salt-tolerant vegetation

‘Karl Foerster’ reed grass (Calmagrostis acutifolia ‘Karl Foerster’)
Excessive tolerance
There are just a few decorative grasses which can be on the salt-tolerant lists I checked out, however this one appeared essentially the most. Different picks embrace Blue lyme grass (Leymus arenarius), Chinese language Fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides), and ‘Elijah Blue’ fescue (Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’). However again to ‘Karl Foerster’. I really like the feathery plumes of this grass that enjoys each full solar or partial shade. This is able to make a pleasant backdrop to shorter salt-tolerant beauties.
USDA zone Four-9

'Karl Foerster' reed grass

This hardy perennial grass can stand excessive ranges of salt within the soil. Photograph courtesy of

Silver mound Artemisia (Artemisia schmidtiana Silver Mound)
Average salt tolerance
The foliage of this smooth, feathery perennial appears to be like prefer it could be delicate, however it might probably stand up to a little bit of salination. The cool, silvery-green hue of the foliage is a superb accent to different cool colors, like blues and violets. Plant it in full solar or partial shade.
USDA zone Four-Eight

Silver mound artemisia

I really like how smooth the foliage is on this plant—however don’t let it idiot you, it’s a hardy perennial. Photograph courtesy of

A number of extra plant picks…

  • Bellflower
  • Catmint
  • Columbine
  • Creeping Thyme
  • Dianthus
  • Daylilies
  • Girl’s Mantle
  • Sea Thrift
  • Yarrow


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