Q. Which flowers will grow on an ocean high-rise balcony facing north and northeast?
A. Your choices are very limited. Not many plants will endure the full blast of salt wind with no direct sun. Oceanfront plants like full sun, little water, good drainage and minimal fussing. You might try the following salt-tolerant plants in large pots: sea oxeye daisy, soft-tip yucca, spider lily, dwarf crown of thorns, crinum lily, confederate jasmine vine, railroad vine, Schillings holly, cardboard palm, carissa `Emerald Blanket', crinum lily, or Indian or Yeddo hawthorn. Flower displays will be modest, but at least these plants have a chance of surviving. The northeast side will receive the worst of the winter winds. Use beach sunflower, gazania or geraniums for window boxes. Keep the soil light and quick draining as most salt-tolerant plants are very subject to root rot.
Q. We live near the ocean and want to put some large pots around our pool area. What do you suggest that is maintenance free?
A. One attractive combination might be Indian hawthorn in the center of the pot with baby sun rose trailing over the edge. Water large pots about twice a week. Another nice combination could use liriope `Evergreen Giant' in the center of the pot with `Aztec Grass' (variegated liriope) around the edge. All are salt tolerant and do not cause maintenance problems.
Q. What shrubs can we plant along a seawall that gets some salt water?
A. Scaevola, sea oxeye daisy, beach sunflower and Indian hawthorn are possibilities. These plants like little water once established. I would not plant along a seawall because of the maintenance required. Plant 5-6 feet back from the wall.
Q. My condominium is on the ocean and all our plants are brown and look dead. What can we use?
A. Ocean front locations are a great challenge because of wind, poor soil, and salt spray. Here are some choices _ Palms: Maypan or Malayan dwarf coconuts, hurricane or princess palm, Washingtonia palm, sabal palm, or thrinax palm. Trees: silver or green buttonwood, noronhia, seagrape (messy), pigeon plum, or live oak. Large shrubs: pittosporum, scaevola, ochrosia, yucca or carissa. Small shrubs: lantana, Shillings holly, or Wheelers pittosporum. Groundcover: lantana, beach sunflower, sea oxeye daisy or beach morninglory.