The most common plants used here for coastal landscaping are relatively easy to identify and many can be purchased from nurseries for you to grow at your own home, providing the growing seasons are compatible. Once you have learned to identify these plants you will be able to recognize the vast majority of plants that you will see here.
• Wax Myrtle
The berries of the wax myrtle were used centuries ago for making fragrant candles. Modern crafters sill use them for the same reason. Birds love the wax myrtle's waxy berries.
The wax myrtle is very flammable. The oils in the tree ignite quickly and burn even faster.
The wax myrtle is most often used to create a natural border on property lines. They can grow up to forty feet tall and twenty-five feet wide. They have spotted leaves that are about three inches in length. Native to Alabama, they will grow just about anywhere, including poor soil and areas prone to flooding. Pruned or not- they thrive near the beach.
The lantana plant has clusters of flowers that are not only pleasing to the eye but are very fragrant. They come in a variety of colors including white, yellow, orange, red and blue. Some people refer to them as sand verbenas.
The plant is drought resistant and grows well in warm climates. It is not indigenous to the Alabama Gulf Coast, but they are naturalized. In most of Florida, they are considered invasive.
Lantana establishes itself quickly. One plant will cover a wide area, so property owners get a lot of bang for the buck when they use this plant for coastal landscaping.
Oleanders are beautiful and can either be in the form of a bush or tree. The blossoms come in many vibrant colors such as white, purple, pink, red and yellow. Every part of the oleander is highly toxic to humans and most animals, but that doesn't hinder landscapers and property owners from using it. It is too beautiful and easy to grow not to.
• African Iris
The African iris grows prolifically along the Alabama coastline. The plants grow to a height of two to three feet and to a width of three to four feet. The flowers, large and showy, are white with yellow and purple-blue markings. The stalks are very stiff. Each bloom only lasts one day, but they are quickly replaced by another flower.
The rhizomes spread quickly in sandy areas and can create large mounds of beautiful and colorful flowers. These plants can be divided every two to three years, making them very cost efficient.
• Pampas Grass
On the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, pampas grass thrives on neglect. It is very easy to grow and doesn't need any care beyond a little trimming. When planting pampas grass be sure you have found the perfect spot. Once it has established itself, nothing short of heavy equipment will move it.
This showy grass can grow up to ten feet tall. The flowers resemble large plumes and grow to about a foot in length. The plumes are usually white, but they can also be pink or a very pale blue. Although pampas grass is beautiful, it can be dangerous too. The greenish blue leaves are razor sharp and can readily slice you wide open, so don’t play with the pampas grass!
• Blue Pacific Juniper
The blue Pacific juniper loves to grow in the sandy dunes near the coastline. This is a low growing plant that spreads incredibly quickly and makes a great ground cover. The foliage is green in color but sometimes has a bluish tint to it. A member of the evergreen family, it is salt, heat and drought tolerant.
It grows to a height of ten to twelve inches and spreads out as far as six feet. It looks great on raised beds or along walls where it can drape itself.