While ideal conditions for growing plants would seem to be rich, fertile soil in a mild climate, there are some plants that thrive in the sand under the heat of the coastal sun all day long. There are many plants that are suited to the salty air, strong winds and sand of the seashore. Many plants would not survive in this type of environment but certain plants not only survive but actually require these conditions to live.
Latifolia, also known as sea lavender, is shrub-like plant that grown along the seashore and is identified easily by it’s purple-to-blue clustered flowers. Sea lavender grows well at temperatures above 70 F in full sun in well-drained soil, making it a perfect match for the beach. This drought-tolerant plant looks much like the lavender found inland but it is a completely different species with a very different set of needs.
One of the most recognizable tropical plants often found lining seaside locations in the tropics is the coconut palm. This tree has been cultivated throughout the tropical regions of the world and is thought to have originated on the Malay Archipelago in the South Pacific, according to the University of Florida IFAS Extension website.
The coconut palm’s signature fruit helps spread the species across oceans because the coconut will float for long distances and germinates on new beaches wherever it lands. Generally the tree is most successful in tropical areas, but subtropical growth is possible as well.
The coconut palm is considered the most important palm tree in the world because of its fruit's many uses.The nut is used for food as well as for making a variety of products such as margarine or soap products.
Europeans originally brought beach grass or marram grass to the United States to help bind the sand on the beaches and hold the dunes in place. An American version of beach grass also grows on the dunes around the Great Lakes and is now prominent along the eastern seaboard of the United States.
This dry greenish-brown grass is commonly seen lining the shores of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. The grasses have creeping roots that form an extensive system and keep sand from sliding out of place, thereby holding dunes intact to help stop encroaching tides.