The Q&A Archives: High Salt

Question: My husband is a soldier in Baghdad. Obviously, he lives in a high heat and high salt soil area. He asked me to send him seeds to plant flowers over there. The soldiers are getting depressed with the desert scenery. What do recommend that would survive the high salt in their soil and will also be a joy to their eyes?

Answer: Plants in this zone face many environmental problems: low rainfall, high temperatures, desiccating winds and salty soil. The number of plant species tolerating these conditions is small but we'll see what we can recommend to bring a little sunshine into your husband's day. One way to overcome the soil conditions is to grow things in raised beds - this is probably not feasible, but you might mention it when you send along the seeds. I'd choose some of the smaller growing sunflowers (Helianthus 'Autumn Time' produces multi-branching plants 3-4' tall plants with 4" wide flowers), salvia (takes lots of heat), marigolds, flax, calendula and verbascum. These annual plants should perform well even under the most adverse conditions.

Best wishes with the new garden!

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