Salt tolerant plants are popular in Wisconsin, because during our often frigid and icy winters, many people use de-icing salt materials on walkways and driveways. Our highways and roadways are also often over-salted during the winter by snowplows. These salts can contaminate surrounding soils and be harmful to sensitive garden plants.

One solution is to use alternate anti-slip materials such as sand, kitty litter, alfalfa meal or coffee grounds. The effectiveness of these alone, however, can be limited. Mixing small amounts of salt with these course materials (e.g. 1 pound deicing salt to 50 pounds sand) should provide good foot traction on sidewalks while minimizing salt accumulation. Thoroughly watering areas bordering salted walkways in the spring to flush salts out of the root zone may also be helpful.

Another option is to plant more salt tolerant plants in areas that adjoin your walkways and driveways.

Following is a list of plants that are moderately to highly salt tolerant:

salt tolerant plants winter salting protection reducing salt spray damage

Salt Tolerant Perennials:

  • Yarrow (Achillea)
  • Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla)
  • Sea Thrift (Armeria)
  • Butterfly Weed (Asclepias)
  • Columbine (Aquilegia)
  • Pinks (Dianthus)
  • Blanket Flower (Gaillardia)
  • Grass – Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’
  • Grass – Blue Oat Grass (Helictotrichon)
  • Grass – Maiden Grass (Miscanthus)
  • Grass – Switchgrass (Panicum)
  • Grass – Fountain Grass (Pennisetum)
  • Grass – Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium)
  • Daylily (Hemerocallis)
  • Coralbells (Heuchera)
  • Hosta (Hosta)
  • Candytuft (Iberis)
  • Iris (Iris)
  • Cat Mint (Nepeta)
  • Peony (Paeonia)
  • Beartongue (Penstemon)
  • Russian Sage (Perovskia)
  • Obedient Plant (Physostegia)
  • Sedum (Sedum)
  • Hens & Chicks (Sempervivum)

Salt Tolerant Shrubs:

  • Serviceberry (Amelanchier)
  • Chokeberry (Aronia)
  • Barberry (Berberis)
  • Boxwood (Buxus)
  • Fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus)
  • Summersweet (Clethra)
  • Dogwood (Cornus)
  • Smokebush (Cotinus)
  • Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster)
  • Burning Bush (Euonymous)
  • Forsythia (Forsythia)
  • Hydrangea (Hydrangea)
  • Holly (Ilex)
  • Juniper (Juniperus)
  • Potentilla (Potentilla)
  • Sumac (Rhus)
  • Rugosa Rose (Rosa rugosa)
  • Willow (Salix)
  • Spirea (Spiraea)
  • Snowberry (Symphoricarpus)
  • Lilac (Syringa)
  • Yew (Taxus)
  • Viburnum (Viburnum)

Salt Tolerant Trees:

  • Horsechestnut (Aesculus)
  • River Birch (Betula)
  • Catalpa (Catalpa)
  • Hawthorn (Crataegus)
  • Ginkgo (Ginkgo)
  • Honeylocust (Gleditsia)
  • Kentucky Coffeetree (Gymnocladus)
  • Black Walnut (Juglans)
  • Larch (Larix)
  • Ornamental Pear (Pyrus)
  • Austrian Pine (Pinus nigra)
  • Mugo Pine (Pinus mugo)
  • Aspen (Populus)
  • Oak (Quercus)
  • Japanese Tree Lilac (Syringa)
  • Arborvitae (Thuja)

Salt Tolerant Vines:

  • Trumpet Vine (Campsis)
  • Honeysuckle (Lonicera)
  • Virginia Creeper & Boston Ivy (Parthenossisus)

by Zannah Crowe