March 14 2024 0Comment
Coastal Plants NZ

5 Coastal Plants to Use in NZ Landscapes

5 Coastal Plants to Use in NZ Landscapes: Thriving Amidst the Salt and Breeze


Coastal gardens in New Zealand pose a unique set of challenges for landscaping enthusiasts. The combination of salty breezes, sandy soil, and strong winds can be harsh on many plants. However, with the right selection, it’s possible to create a vibrant, thriving garden that withstands these coastal conditions.

This article explores five robust plant genera ideally suited for New Zealand’s coastal landscapes, offering beauty and resilience amidst the salt and breeze.

Before we go on, it’s important to acknowledge that each genus, species, and variety will have their own unique characteristics. The specific cultivar examples mentioned are tolerant for coastal positions but you should check the details of any other varieties within each of these genera before you expose them to salty conditions.

1. Dianellas


Dianella spp., known for their striking foliage and vibrant blue berries, are a resilient choice for coastal gardens. Their adaptability and striking architectural growth habit make them a popular option among gardeners looking to add colour and texture to their outdoor spaces.

Benefits in Coastal Landscapes

  • Salt Tolerance: Some of these plants thrive even in the presence of salt spray, making them perfect for seaside locations.
    • Soil Adaptability: Whether your garden has sandy or clay soil, there’s a dianella that can flourish.
    • Low Maintenance: Requiring minimal upkeep, they’re ideal for those with a busy lifestyle or low maintenance budget.

Cultivation Tips

  • Planting: Good drainage is ideal to prevent root rot for most varieties.
    • Light Requirements: They generally perform well in full sun to partial shade.
    • Watering: Regular watering is needed, especially in dry conditions, but avoid overwatering.

Baby Bliss™ Dianella revoluta ‘DTN03’.

2. Alternanthera


Alternanthera spp., often celebrated for their vibrant and colourful foliage, add a splash of brightness to any garden. These plants are known for their versatility and can be used in various landscaping designs to introduce contrast or as a focal point due to their striking leaf colours.

Benefits in Coastal Landscapes

  • Visual Appeal: Their rich hues of red, purple, green, and yellow can brighten up coastal gardens.
  • Adaptability: While they prefer warmer climates, with the right care, they can adapt to the cooler coastal areas of New Zealand.
  • Compact Growth: Their manageable size makes them excellent for borders, ground covers, or container gardening.

Cultivation Tips

  • Light Requirements: For best color, plant in a location that receives full sun. However, they can tolerate partial shade.
  • Soil Conditions: Alternanthera prefers moist, well-drained soils but is relatively adaptable to different soil types.
  • Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist, especially in dry periods, to ensure vibrant foliage and healthy growth.
  • Pruning: Regular trimming can help maintain the desired shape and encourage denser foliage.

Little Ruby™ Alternanthera dentata ‘LRU30’ PVR.

coastal plants new zealand

3. Lomandras


Lomandra spp. are hardy, evergreen grasses that serve as an excellent ground cover, some of which are tolerant of challenging coastal environments.

Benefits in Coastal Landscapes

  • Erosion Control: Their extensive root system helps stabilise soil.
    • Drought Tolerance: Once established, lomandras are generally quite drought-resistant.
    • Aesthetic Appeal: They provide year-round greenery and texture.

Cultivation Tips

  • Mulching: Helps maintain soil moisture and suppresses weeds.
    • Fertilising: Apply a slow-release fertiliser in spring to promote growth.
    • Watering: Initially, water regularly and reduce frequency once established.

Nyalla™ Lomandra longifolia ‘LM400’ PVR.

lomandras NZ

4. Liriopes


Liriope spp., though slightly less tolerant to direct salt spray, offer beautiful foliage and purple flower spikes, making them excellent for borders or groundcovers.

Benefits in Coastal Landscapes

  • Partial Salt Tolerance: With some protection, they can manage coastal conditions.
    • Shade Tolerance: Ideal for shaded areas under larger plants or structures.
    • Soil Flexibility: Liriopes are not fussy about soil types.

Cultivation Tips

  • Protection: Provide shelter from the strongest winds and salt sprays.
    • Watering: Ensure consistent moisture to avoid leaf burn.
    • Division: Clump division every few years keeps plants healthy and vibrant.

Just Right™ Liriope muscari.

Coastal Landscapes

5. Westringia


Westringia spp., often likened to native rosemary, are durable shrubs that perform exceptionally well in coastal settings, thanks to their grey-green foliage and subtle flowers.

Benefits in Coastal Landscapes

  • Salt and Wind Tolerance: Exceptionally resilient, these plants are well-suited to seaside gardens.
    • Low Maintenance: Once established, westringias require little care.
    • Versatility: Ideal for use in hedges, borders, or as standalone features.

Cultivation Tips

  • Pruning: Light pruning promotes dense, bushy growth.
    • Soil Type: Prefers well-drained soils but can tolerate sandy conditions.
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun is best for flowering and overall health.

Grey Box™ Westringia ‘WES04’ PVR

Westringia NZ


Designing a coastal garden in New Zealand doesn’t have to be limiting. By choosing plants like dianellas, alternanthera, lomandras, liriopes, and westringias, you can create a diverse, resilient, and beautiful landscape that thrives amidst the challenges of coastal living.

Each genus will have varieties that are more tolerant to coastal conditions than other specimens within the same genus. But each of the specific cultivars mentioned are perfect for your coastal garden, so feel free to use them.