Drought Tolerant Plants

This page will serve as a guideline for those inquiring about flora that will do well along the Pacific coast. Research into micro climates originated with conversations with nurseries in Lincoln City, Oregon.

The micro climates may vary from block to block or from one side of the lake to the other. A gardener at the Pacific coast will have alkaline soil closer to the ocean. With this type of soil one would need to add compost and possibly an acidifying amendment to balance pH. The further away from the beach, the less alkaline the soil will be.

It is strongly suggested you become acquainted with your own micro climates, as well as soil pH. A good starting point is to observe what plants your neighbors have in their gardens.

Portland Nursery suggests the following resources for further research:

Taylors Guide to Seashore Gardening

The Pacific Northwest Gardeners Book of Lists Sunset Western Garden Book

Reference sources used in this flier:

Taylors Guide to Seashore Gardening-Boston, New York 1996

Blakes Coastal Garden - Lincoln City, Oregon

Bear Valley Nursery - Lincoln City, Oregon

Coastal Planting

Want a copy of this article?
Click to print.

Trees, shrubs, and perennials for hot, dry, and sunny areas

Plants with an * are evergreen.

Conifer Trees

  • Chamaecyparis lawsoniana Port Orford Cedar - Pyramidal shape with lacy, drooping foliage. To 60’.
  • Chamaecyparis obtuta ‘Gracilis’ Slender Hinoki Cypress - Narrow, upright growth habit to 20’.
  • Cupressocyparis leylandii Leyland Cypress - Can grow very fast with long, slender branches.
  • Picea sitchensis Sitka Spruce - Pyramidal, to 100’.
  • Pinus contorta Shore Pine - Quick growing to 20-35’. Needs regular water.
  • Pinus thunbergii Japanese Black Pine - Growth varies by variety, overall wonderfully tolerant.
  • Pseudotsuga menziesii Douglas Fir - Pyramidal growth when young. PNW native.
  • Sequioa sempervirens Coast Redwood - Fast growing. Needs regular water.
  • Thuja plicata Western Red Cedar - Moderate to fast growth, can be enormous, but can be kept smaller with annual pruning.
  • Tsuga heterophylla Western Hemlock - Also a native to the PNW, but much slower growing than the Western Red Cedar.

Leafy Trees

  • Acer macrophyllum Big Leaf Maple - Native, to 75’.
  • Alnus rubra Red Alder - Grows 45-50’, beautiful smooth gray bark.
  • Arbutus x ‘Marina’ Strawberry Tree - Evergreen, 40’.
  • Cotinus spp. Smoke Tree - Normally multi-stemmed, but can be pruned to standard form. Sizes vary with variety. Thrives in poor soils.
  • Eucalyptus spp. Eucalyptus - Sizes vary by species.
  • Robinia pseudoacacia Black Locust - Fast growing to 75’. Wonderful fragrant flowers.
  • Salix caprea French Pussy Willow - Fast growing to 25’. Can be kept small by cutting back every year.
  • Vitex agnus-castus Chaste Tree - Easily pruned into standard form. Blooms summer to fall with fragrant blue flowers.


  • Abelia grandiflora Glossy Abelia - Evergreen shrub with tubular flowers.
  • Buxus sepervirens English Boxwood - Evergreen. Used mostly for hedging.
  • Carpenteria californica Bush Anemone - Evergreen shrub, to 4-6’. Flowers late spring- summer.
  • Ceanothus spp. California Wild Lilac - Wide variety of evergreen shrubs, size varies by variety. Once established a very carefree plant.
  • Choisya ternata Mexican Orange - Evergreen for shady situations. Grows 6-8’.
  • Cistus spp. Rockrose. Evergreen, flowering choice. Sizes vary, most flower through spring into summer.
  • Clethra alnifolia Summersweet - Deciduous flowering shrub, to 4-10’.
  • Comptonia peregrine Sweet Fern - Lovely spreading shrub with fern-like, aromatic foliage.
  • Duranta ‘Sweet Memory’ Sky Flower - Evergreen shrub bearing attractive blue flowers in summer.
  • Escallonia spp. Escallonia - Fast growing evergreen shrubs. Dependable flowering in summer and fall. Can be used as a hedging alternative.
  • Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’ Coast Silktassel - Another great native! Large shrub, to 10-20’.
  • Heaths & Heathers - Known in the botanical world as Erica and Calluna, great evergreen choice for the coast. Most are low and spreading.
  • Hebe - Evergreen shrubs, provide interesting texture (flowers too!). Sizes vary depending on variety.
  • Hippophae rhamnoides Sea Buckthorn - Usually an open, mounding shrub, to 8-10’. Flowers are small, but the fruit is very showy and lasts through winter.
  • Hydrangea spp. Hydrangea - Needs rich, porous soil.
  • Myrica californica Pacific Wax Myrtle. Evergreen shrub or tree, to 30’.
  • Phormium tenax New Zealand Flax - Evergreen shrub that needs excellent drainage. Sizes vary by variety.