The Salty Wind

Floridians love the sunshine and the joys of living close to the beach. But beyond the threat of hurricanes, living with balmy, breezy, salty air can also mean dealing with rusted iron planters and short-lived metal BBQ grills. Did you also know it can play havoc with our plants and trees? 

Recently, we had over 3 days of higher than usual winds and no rainfall. Easterly winds whipped up the beaches, tore across properties, around walls and between structures, delivering a cargo of saltwater that clung to surfaces indiscriminately, and without any rain to wash it away. Wind-borne saltwater was deposited on plants, the moisture evaporated, but the corrosive salt didn’t. Salt now covered every leaf, bud, twig, and needle.

A gallon of seawater contains 27 teaspoons of salt with dual personalities: corrosive and abrasive. Corrosive salt breaks down the surface of plants, burning the scales that protect leaves and buds. Abrasive salt crystals grind in the wind to fairly beat up young, tender buds and leaves. All factors add up to a dull, tattered, and burned out look to a variety of plants.

Learn more about salt tolerant Florida-friendly trees at the UF IFAS Extension (PDF) bulletin.

Coastal breezes and an occasional blustery day make choosing trees and plants for this salty environment a major consideration for landscapers and gardeners. It’s no coincidence that Coconut and Sabal palms and Sea Grapes are in abundance along our coastal roads. These are salt tolerant plants. Other smaller salt-tolerant choices are Green Island Ficus or Clusia, the variegated Peperomia, sun-worshipping Agave, ferny Cardboard palms, fruit-bearing Garcinia, Spartina grass, and Silver Buttonwood. Ground-hugging bloomers like ice plant/aptenia and Baby Sun Rose are also good ground cover and rock garden plants that tolerant our salty winds.

Our landscape designers understand our south Florida winter conditions and are available to help solve the problems of roller coaster temperatures, excessive rains, coastal wind conditions, fungus issues, leaf drop and more. Make an appointment today by calling (772) 546-2861 or email us at [email protected]