Do you have an area of your garden where the wind never stops blowing? Many people do, and it’s hard on most plants to have their roots tugged on by the wind as it moves back and forth.
If the roots don’t stay put, they find it difficult to get the nutrients from the soil. It can cost a lot of money to battle to keep plants that don’t do well in windy areas alive. But there’s hope.
Some plants are quite happy in the wind, whether you need some color, food, or a windbreak.
How Wind Affects Plants
When there is too much wind for plants that don’t tolerate it well, it can cause stunted growth. This is due to all the movement caused by being buffeted excessively by the wind. The roots are continuously moved as the plant is blown, and it affects the level of nutrients absorbed by the roots.
The wind also dries plants out through surface and leaf moisture evaporation, causing the plant to require significant and consistent watering.
This is why you may see small, sparse, leggy plants that never seem to thrive in areas that are constantly windy.
Even consistent, light winds can damage plants that don’t suit windy locations. Plants that are wind tolerant have flexible leaves and stems. They can move without getting damaged.
Let’s break down the plant types you can put in moderate to high wind areas.
Wind Tolerant Flowers
There is no need to have dull windy areas with little color beyond green and brown. Windy areas can be as stunning as the most colorful walled garden. You just need the right plants to make it look good.
1. Shasta Daisies
One of my favorite perennials, Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum × superbum) look similar to wild daisies. They are robust with strong stems.
Hardy in USDA Growing Zone 4 to 9, they will bloom in summer and fall. They grow in clumps around 2 feet tall and up to three feet wide.
Shasta daisies can be aggressive growers so consider planting in raised beds or be diligent with deadheading.
These bright orange, pink, and yellow annuals (Tagetes spp.) are perfect for windy spots. They like full sun and grow well when the seeds are sown directly in the soil.
Marigold blossoms will continue through spring, summer, and fall and suit USDA Growing Zones 2 to 11.
Zinnias (Zinnia spp.) are perfect for windy areas, but make sure you plant a low-growing variety. I have had long-stem zinnia in windy spots and they have been fine, but the stronger the wind, the more likely they may be damaged.
There are a number of dwarf varieties, so check where you buy flowers from.
Purslane (Portulaca spp.) is a wonderful, edible ground cover that is extremely wind tolerant. Due to having thick, fleshy foliage, portulaca won’t suffer surface evaporation like many other plants in the wind.
One of the best things about this ground cover is they reseed and return year after year. Not only are they wind tolerant, they are drought and heat tolerant as well, meaning they are perfect for those very exposed, windy, and full-sun areas.
5. African Daisies
African daisies (Gazania spp.) are hardy in USDA Growing Zones 9 to 11. They love hot, dry conditions, so windy areas are easily tolerated.
This spreading plant seems capable of growing anywhere, and windy spots are no different. Due to their swift spread, they can take over areas, so contain them in raised beds, or if you have a windy area that needs filling, let nasturtium do its thing,
Daylilies (Hemerocallis spp.) are good growers in USDA Growing Zones 4-9. You’ll only need to water them once a week when they are first establishing themselves, and unless you are in a drought, they quite often take care of themselves with rainfall being enough water for them.
The flowers live for a day, so you need to plant out a large area to get continuous blooms, but they survive well in windy areas of your garden or homestead.
You may know this lovely flower as tickseed, but whatever you call it, coreopsis (Coreopsis spp.) is a great choice for windy areas. I have seen this plant sway back and forth constantly, yet it just keeps on blooming.
Best in USDA Growing Zones 2-10, coreopsis will attract pollinators and butterflies to your windy area.
Look for low-growing varieties like ‘Nana,’ ‘Zagreb,’ or ‘Moonbeam.’
9. Azalea and Rhododendron
Azaleas (Rhododendron spp.) and all other rhododendrons are perfect for a windy area that gets partial shade as they need a little sun protection. The wind is no problem and they’ll provide you with a colorful display.
Shrubs play an important part in windy areas because you can use them as a windbreak to protect smaller plants and buildings.
Depending on the variety you choose, elderberries (Sambucus spp.) are perfect for windy areas in USDA Growing Zones 3 to 9.
They can withstand a lot of movement and make windy areas productive with flowers used for making drinks and berries for all manner of uses in the kitchen and medicine cabinet.
Elderberry will also attract pollinators and birds to windy areas.
11. Common Lilac
Known for being hardy and adaptable, lilac (Syringa spp.) will grow well in windy areas and produce a burst of color in USDA Growing Zones 2 to 7.
If you plant a mixture of both white and purple lilacs, you will have a dependable windbreak and a lot of wonderful flowers. They bloom in spring and provide good protection in winter when the winds are much colder.
This east coast native (Myrica spp.) has the most wonderful fragrance and if you plant it in windy areas, you’ll notice the scent swirling all around you.
Bayberries have long leaves dense enough to provide birds shelter from the wind. The varying shades of green leaves turn bronze in the winter and it is very hardy.
Not only does it survive and beatify windy areas, bayberry is also drought-resistant, but it also tolerates salty environments and is not too fussy with the soil it’s planted in.
Plant in Zones 3-9.
13. Fragrant Sumac
This perennial (Rhus aromatica) is quite large and is one of my favorites due to the multitude of colors a plant goes through. They are sought after by butterflies and you usually see the flowers appear before the foliage.
If your area has lots of wind and is pestered by deer, fragrant sumac is a great plant choice, especially in areas where you want a nice plant on banks and slopes in USDA Growing Zones 2-8.
Boxwood (Buxus spp.) plants are extremely popular thanks to their ability to survive in most environments including areas with extreme temperatures. They also make a great addition to windy areas.
The leaves are green and glossy and the flowers grow in tight clusters. Plant in USDA Growing zones 5 to 9, but remember they’re toxic to most pets.
Boxwoods come in varying sizes so look for a dwarf or smaller one because the larger plants don’t have roots as deep as some other wind-resistant plants.
If you are looking for wind-tolerant herbal plants, especially for foliage, artemisia or wormwood (Artemisia spp.) is perfect for you.
Plant in spring as soon as you can work the soil in USDA Growing Zones 4 to 10. They like full sun and aren’t fussy when it comes to soil.
Look for a smaller variety, though even the larger ones can withstand wind.
Be careful of your tree choice for windy areas. Many are okay when young, but the last thing you want is a tree falling because the wind pushed them over because their shallow roots couldn’t hold on.
Don’t rely on the size of the tree above ground to tell you how strong it is below the surface. Many tall trees are the most susceptible to blowing over.
Other trees simply can’t handle constant buffeting by the wind. The following, however, will be just fine:
16. American Beech
This hardwood tree is one of those plants that can withstand strong winds. It does well in USDA growing Zones 4 to 9.
Although not fussy with soil, American beech (Fagus grandifolia) likes lots of water, so water well or plant in areas with good soil moisture that drains well.
What’s better than a fruit tree that is wind resistant? You will need both male and female trees to get fruit from the American persimmon (Diospyros virginiana). If you want a large fruit harvest, you must water ensure they have adequate water starting after budburst right up to harvest.
Good for USDA Growing Zones 4 to 9, they will be fine in full sun or partial shade.
18. Bald Cypress
Known as swamp trees, bald cypresses (Taxodium distichum) are perfect plants for those areas that are wet as well as often hit by wind.
It’s deciduous but has a lovely colorful show of reds and oranges in the fall. Bald cypress will grow up to 100 feet tall in USDA Growing Zones 4 to 10.
This is the perfect tree to attract honeybees thanks to its numerous petite yellow or white flowers. Basswood (Tilia americana) is drought tolerant unless the drought extends too long. Then you’ll need to provide some irrigation.
It will grow well in USDA Growing Zones 3 to 8 and grows to around 80 feet tall.
20. Chinese Juniper
This conical-shaped beauty (Juniperus chinensis) is perfect because it won’t lose the needle-like foliage, so it provides wind protection and can withstand winds all year round.
There are small varieties that grow as shrubs and others that grow to 60 feet tall. Talk to your local seller to see which cultivars or hybrids grow best in your area (it thrives in Zones 3-9).
21. Crape Myrtle
Crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia indica) are medium-sized shrubs or small trees. It gets its name from the crape paper-like flowers. The petals are delicate, wrinkled, and incredibly bright pink, making them a showy statement in the garden.
When not in bloom, the deep green foliage is beautiful all on its own. In the fall, the leaves turn bright yellow, orange, or red. These grow well in Zones 7-10 and make excellent wind-resistant plants.
22. Douglas Fir
Douglas firs (Pseudotsuga menziesii) grow wild in many parts of North America and can be cultivated in Zones 4-6. These tall, stately evergreens are tolerant of heavy wind and can reach up to 70 feet tall in the right conditions.
However, it isn’t tolerant of drought, so be sure that it receives the water it needs to thrive.
23. Norway Spruce
Picea babies is the fastest growing spruce and isn’t troubled by wind. It grows in Zones 3-7. Drought-tolerant and growing up to 60 feet tall, it has a natural pyramidal growth habit that adds shape to the garden.
The European olive tree (Olea europaea) is a large shrub or small tree that produces the delicious fruits that we all know and love. They’re also drought-tolerant and wind-resistant.
Depending on the cultivar, these trees can grow in Zones 8-12.
25. Flowering Dogwood
Flowering dogwoods (Cornus florida) are native to parts of the US. They can grow up to 25 feet tall and have beautiful pink flowers in the spring. If you live in Zones 5-9, this is one of the perfect wind-resistant plants for those who want a big, showy display.