One of the quieter joys of spending the summer down the shore is strolling past the beautiful cottage gardens, especially when they adorn the Victorian homes of Ocean City or Beach Haven. The best plants for a beach garden thrive in the moist salt air and well drained, sandy soils. They bloom at the height of summer and are low-maintenance.
After all, you want to enjoy the vacation vibe without fussing over your plants. Even if you don’t live within earshot of the Atlantic, you can add these coastal favorites to your New Jersey garden to bring a slice of the shore back home with you.
Hydrangeas are the backbone of a beach cottage garden and will fill the space with big, puffy blooms all summer long. Best of all, you can control the color by adjusting your soil. If you like blue hydrangeas, water your shrubs with an acidifying plant food designed to lower the pH of the soil. If you prefer pink, you can try adding lime or plant them near a concrete foundation, which can leach more alkaline substances into the soil. Hydrangeas thrive in the temperate ocean air of Zone 6 and 7, making them perfect for New Jersey gardens.
These carefree beauties come in a wide range of heights and colors, so you’re sure to find something to play nicely with the other colors of your garden. Though each flower blooms for just a single day, daylilies put out a long succession of color that lasts for a month or longer in the summer. Once established, they are easy to grow, and they should get bigger and better each year.
These classic flowers are symbolic of summer with their bright yellow centers and white petals. They are easy in full sun, though afternoon shade for the roots can help keep them looking their best. Though they bloom for several weeks, you’ll need to cut off the spent flowers, which aren’t attractive once they turn brown in the hot sun of August.
No cottage garden is complete without a beautiful vine, and moonflower is sure to please. These blooms open at night, and under the light of the moon their white petals appear to glow in the dark. It’s a relative of morning glories, and requires similar care. It will need to be watered regularly until established in full sun, and you’ll have to train it to climb a pergola or arch. When the flowers bloom they fill the air with their heady fragrance, so plant moonflower where it can be enjoyed in the evenings.
A relative of mint, this plant is a great substitute for lavender in a coastal garden. Its spiky, blue-purple flowers blend well with everything, and it blooms nonstop from summer through fall. These hardy plants are drought-tolerant and can fill a large area quickly, making them a great way to get a new cottage garden to look like it’s been around forever.
This annual smells amazing, so it’s great to plant near porches or pools where its scent can be enjoyed during cookouts and warm summer evenings. It does best in full sun, and climbing varieties are available. Try it over a trellis or along a garden gate to welcome guests.
All of these plants look great together, so plant as many or as few as you like, and enjoy a beach garden no matter where you live.