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Coastal Seashore Gardens Benefit from Native Plants - At the Philadelphia Flower Show featuring America’s native bounty

Release Date: 3/3/2005
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith, (215) 814-5543

Bonnie Smith, (215) 814-5543

PHILADELPHIA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s exhibit at the 2005 Philadelphia Flower Show will feature native plants in a coastal seashore garden. Visitors will see unique plants that are unlike those from any previous EPA exhibit.

“EPA’s Flower Show exhibit is an excellent environmental education activity, helping the public to better appreciate the beauty and value of native plants and the natural ecosystems specific to this region,” says Donald S. Welsh, U.S. EPA mid-Atlantic regional administrator.

Landscaping in coastal areas can be challenging.

Poor soil, dry conditions, wind, and salt spray limit the number of plants that will grow on these sites. When selecting plants for coastal landscapes, it is important to keep in mind the rugged conditions and exposure to the ocean, and consider using native plants that can tolerate that environment. For example, blue rug juniper (Juniperus horizontalis) is an excellent groundcover and northern bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica) is a shrub with high wildlife value -- providing food for birds and wildlife. Some unusual perennials including Eastern prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa) and Rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium) are well adapted to this environment and add architectural interest to the landscape.

Proper selection of plants and site preparation are basic to the success of any coastal landscape. In areas sheltered by other plants or in the lee of structures, the choice of plant material is much greater. EPA is also showcasing some native plants that although not indigenous to coastal areas, will grow in this environment, for example Lewisia cotyledon and several bulbs including Dichelostemma ida-maia. Even if not long-lived, they surprise and delight visitors to the garden.

Here are some tips on coastal landscaping that gardeners by the sea may want to try:

Native plants grown in a coastal setting are best adapted to certain climatic conditions.
Poor soil conditions such as sandy or saturated soil.
Areas with sharp or poor drainage.
Salt Spray.
Dry Conditions.
Windy weather

Once established, fewer resources are needed to maintain the health of native plants.
Require less frequent watering.
Not as vulnerable to diseases and pests.
Reduce use of fertilizers and pesticides.
Provide better wildlife food and habitat.

Native plants create habitat for native wildlife.
Provide food for wildlife.
Create shelter for native wildlife.

Choose native plants instead of exotic and invasive plant species.
Invasive plants can out-compete native plants for nutrients and water.
Invasives require more maintenance than native plants.
Invasive plants often carry pests that can harm native plants.

Additional tips for beneficial landscaping in urban and suburban settings are available on EPA’s website at Environmentally friendly gardening is a way of designing and maintaining beautiful yards, gardens, and larger landscapes to reduce harm to the environment, save time and money with lower maintenance, and have healthier places to work and play. To learn about integrated pest management see EPA’s website at

The 2005 Philadelphia Flower Show “America the Beautiful will run from Sunday, March 6 through Sunday, March 13 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, 12th & Arch Streets, Philadelphia, PA 19107-2299.