Plants in coastal gardens have to withstand seasonal gale-force winds, resist the damage caused by salt-laden breezes and grow in sandy soils. Plants selected for gardens at holiday
homes also need to be able to endure periods with little water. This sounds like a tall order, but there are attractive plants which fit the bill; pick the right ones and you’re sure to have success.
Members of the daisy family, like gazanias, dimorphotheca, ursinias and these Didelta carnosa grow in sandy soil, tolerate wind, help stabilise the sand and reduce evaporation.
Tough, leathery grey leaves that reflect the heat and often have a protective covering of hairs. Some examples of plants with these types of leaves are the camphor bush (Tarchonanthus),
coastal silver oak (Brachylaena discolor), mock olive (Buddleia saligna) and the beach salvias.
Leaves with a shiny or waxy coating that reflect the sun, reduce surface evaporation and deflect salt. Look out for them on plants like the white milkwood (Sideroxylon inerme),
coprosmas, the carissas like the num-num and amatungulu plums, and succulents like cotyledons and aloes.
Tiny needle-like leaves such as those found on buchus, coleonemas (confetti bush) and the fynbos ericas whose leaves roll up to reduce evaporation.
Aloes are a hardy, beautiful species that can be used as shrubs or as structural plants in water-wise gardens.
Numerous species exist in South Africa, and a number of hybrids have been cultivated for the market. Care should be taken not to over-water aloes, which may increase
their susceptibility to disease.
Popular species in include aloe arborescens (krantz aloe), aloe marlothii (mountain aloe), and aloe ferox (bitter aloe).
Note that many aloe species suffer from a leaf scale which can turn the plants white, and homeowners should be proactive in removing this - consult your local nursery
for a solution.
Strelitzia’s height and structure add an architectural element to the garden. They can tolerate a fair amount of wind especially as one plant protects the next. Their succulent
roots help them survive dry periods and stabilise the soil, while birds are attracted to the nectar which drips from their ice blue and white flowers. They’re particularly good for the
warmer East Coast gardens. Height: 1,5–5m.
Gazanias are useful spreading groundcovers for coastal gardens as they are both wind and salt tolerant. Not only do they cover the sand quickly, preventing it from being blown
away they help reduce evaporation. Their cheerful bright yellow or orange flowers add colour from midwinter well into summer. Some varieties have dark green leaves, while others
have grey or variegated leaves as pictured below.
They are easy to grow from slips or rooted cuttings. At the seaside, they should be planted closer together than usual. Height: 20–30cm.