Winter safety includes keeping walkways free of ice. Many ice melting products are not plant-friendly. Commonly used rock salt, or sodium chloride, is extremely harmful to plant material and can impact the soil health. Instead, choose products made with calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, or calcium magnesium acetate. If using a service, ask about their plant safe deicer options.

Signs of Damage

Some plants show immediate damage from ice melting products, such as browning on evergreens. In summer, deciduous plants may display burn or scorch on leaves, branch dieback, stunted growth, or lack of vigor and death. Lawns along sidewalks and streets can be killed from excessive salt.

Advice on Care

Adding sand or sawdust will extend a deicer and provide extra traction. Try to avoid piling salt-laden snow around trees and shrubs. Make sure drainage patterns flow away from the plants. Thoroughly watering the area in the spring to wash deicer out of the soil, off of the root zones and woody structures of the plants will help.

Chose Salt Tolerant Plants

The best way to deal with potential salt damage is to choose plants known to be salt-tolerant especially if you don’t have control of what type of deicer is used. This does not mean you can use a heavy hand with the deicer, but these plants can handle the salt better. 

Shrubs Tolerant of Salt

Common Name: Chokeberry
Latin Name: Aronia

Common Name: Barberry
Latin Name: Berberis thunbergii

Common Name: Forsythia
Latin Name: Forsythia

Common Name: Hydrangea
Latin Name: Hydrangea

Common Name: St. John’s Wort
Latin Name: Hypericum

Common Name: Holly
Latin Name: Ilex

Common Name: Mockorange
Latin Name: Philadelphus x virginalis

Common Name: Mugo Pine
Latin Name: Pinus ‘Mugo’

Common Name: Sumac
Latin Name: Rhus aromatic

Common Name: Alpine Currant
Latin Name: Ribes alpinum

Common Name: Spirea
Latin Name: Spirea

Common Name: Coralberry
Latin Name: Symphocarpos

Common Name: Lilac
Latin Name: Syringa

Common Name: Yucca
Latin Name: Yucca

Trees Tolerant of Salt

Common Name: Coffeetree
Latin Name: Gymnocladus 

Common Name: Honeylocust
Latin Name: Gleditsia

Common Name: Ginkgo
Latin Name: Ginkgo

Common Name: Eastern Redcedar
Latin Name: Juniperus virginiana

Common Name: Oak
Latin Name: Quercus

Perennials & Perennial Grasses Very Tolerant of Salt

Common Name: Sea Thrift
Latin Name: Armeria

Common Name: Reed Grass
Latin Name: Calamagrostis

Common Name: Pinks
Latin Name: Dianthus

Common Name: Fountain Grass
Latin Name: Pennisetum alopecuroides

Common Name: Virginia Creeper
Latin Name: Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Perennials Tolerant of Salt

Common Name: Japanese Anemone
Latin Name: Anemone

Common Name: Wormwood
Latin Name: Artemesia

Common Name: Pigsqueak
Latin Name: Bergenia

Common Name: Jupiter’s Beard
Latin Name: Centranthus ruber

Common Name: Plumbago
Latin Name: Ceratostigma plumbaginoides

Common Name: Daylily
Latin Name: Hemerocallis

Common Name: Coral Bells
Latin Name: Heuchera

Common Name: Hosta/Plantain Lily
Latin Name: Hosta

Common Name: Lavender
Latin Name: Lavandula

Common Name: Shasta Daisy
Latin Name: Leucanthemum

Common Name: Creeping Lilyturf
Latin Name: Liriope spicata

Common Name: Sedum
Latin Name: Sedum spectabile

Common Name: Speedwell
Latin Name: Veronica

Common Name: Creeping Thyme
Latin Name: Thymus

Perennial Grasses Tolerant of Salt

Common Name: Big Bluestem Grass
Latin Name: Andropogon

Common Name: Northern Sea Oats
Latin Name: Chasmanthium latifolium

Common Name: Blue Fescue
Latin Name: Festuca glauca

Common Name: Maiden Grass
Latin Name: Miscanthus

Common Name: Switch Grass
Latin Name: Panicum

Common Name: Prairie Dropseed
Latin Name: Sporobolus heterolepis