Water quality in home gardens

Page last updated: Thursday, 11 December 2014 - 10:08am

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Plant tolerance to saline water

The tolerance of plants to salt water varies. In the table below, plants are arranged in approximate order to salt tolerance in each group, with the least tolerant listed first. The difference between two or three plants near one another in each list is small.

These plant and water groups are only a general guide, as soil texture and drainage could be overriding factors. Plants listed as suitable for salty waters will grow better with less salty water.

Water group A conductivity 090 mS/m: Highly salt sensitive plants 

Precautions for reticulation use:

  1. Avoid wetting leaves on hot dry days.

Fruit: persimmon, passionfruit, strawberry, raspberry, avocado, loquat, almond, stone fruit, citrus fruit, apples, pears.

Vegetables: green beans, parsnips, celery, radish, squash, peas, onion, carrot.

Ornamentals: primula, gardenia, star jasmine, begonia, rose, azalea, camellia, ivy, magnolia, fuschia.


Water group B conductivity 90–270 mS/m: Mildly salt sensitive plants 

Precautions for reticulation use:

  1. Avoid wetting leaves during daytime.
  2. Avoid light, frequent watering.
  3. Water quickly and use continuous wetting sprinklers if wetting the leaves.

Fruit: mulberry, grape.

Vegetables: cucumber, capsicum, lettuce, sweet corn, rockmelon, potatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, watermelon, broccoli, pumpkin, tomato.

Ornamentals: hibiscus, geranium, gladiolus, bauhinia, zinnia, aster, poinsetta, lantana, Thuja orientalis, hop bush (Dodenea attenuata), banana (Musa spp), emu bush (Podocarpus), Juniperus chinensis, bottle brush (Callistemon viminalis).

Water group C conductivity 270–635 mS/m: Slightly salt sensitive plants

Precautions for reticulation use:

  1. Avoid wetting leaves of most plants where possible.
  2. Adequate leaching necessary.

Fruit: olive, fig, pomegranate.

Vegetables: spinach, asparagus, kale, garden beets.

Ornamentals: stock, chrsyanthenmum, carnation, oleander, rosemary, bougainvillea, vinca, copromosa, Ficus spp., false acacia (Robinia pseudoacacia), Queensland pyramid tree (Lagunaria patersonii), NZ Christmas bush (Metrosideros tomentosa), bangalay (Eucalyptus botryoides), river red gum (E. camaldulensis), Rottnest tea tree (Melaleuca cupressiformis), Rottnest cyprus (Callitris robusta)Acacia longifolia, buffalo grass, kikuyu grass, portulaca, Mesembryanthemum, boobialla (Myoporum acuminatum), red mallee (E. oleosa), swamp yate (E. occidentalis), York gum (E. loxophleba), swamp mallet (E. spatulata), couch grass, bamboo, Kondinin blackbutt (E. kondininensis), swamp cypress (Actinostrobus pyramidalis).

Water group D conductivity 635–2365 mS/m: Salt tolerant plants

Precautions for reticulation:

  1. Do not wet leaves.
  2. Excellent drainage and leaching essential.

Fruit: date palm.

Ornamentals: canary palm (Phoenix canariensis), salt river gum (E. sargentii), saltwater couch, salt lake honey myrtle (Melaleuca thyoides), salt sheoaks (Allocasuarina cristata and A. glauca), tamarisk, saltbush (Atriplex nummularia).


Yield and growth of all plants is reduced with saltier water.


Pest And Disease Information Service (PaDIS)