Uniola Paniculata: Sea Oats Information and Care

Uniola Paniculata, or Sea oats, are coastline, warm-season grasses. Why should you consider it and how to take care of it?

Sea oats are valuable plants that provide coastline protection during extreme weather events like hurricanes and storms. Let’s explore more about this unique grass and how best to care for and use it in your landscape.

General Information

Sea oats grass is a long-living, warm-season grass. Although it grows slowly, it can reach a height of 6 feet. Sea oats have slender, green leaves and grow clusters of flat, green, or light brown spikelets that contain seeds.

Their large plumes resemble oat grains and that is how the grass got its name.

Sea oats grass grows abundantly in southern coastal dunes. It’s one of the most important forms of vegetation to grow in those areas because it helps stabilize the sand.

Unfortunately, sea oats grass is now endangered because of beach pollution from marina runoff, growing urbanization, foot traffic, and off-road vehicles.

Sea oats thrive in sand. They are resistant to dry weather and salt spray and will continue growing despite being covered by dunes. In fact, sand accumulation stimulates sea oats’ root growth.

This grass adds a beautiful texture to landscapes, especially when the wind blows. Their eye-catching dangling seed heads can also be used in dried flower arrangements.

beautiful oats grasses growing along the sea

Care and Maintenance


Sea oats can grow in partial shade but prefer full sun. They grow best in damp, mildly acidic to basic soil and can withstand blowing sand, drought, and occasional seawater inundations.


Sea oats can be cultivated in a backyard garden. When planting this grass, be sure to provide it with a moderate supply of water so that the soil doesn’t dry out. Water it once or twice a week to help the grass establish itself and grow its roots.

Once established, it can endure occasional, brief flooding caused by storm surges.

beautiful captured of grasses during sunset


Over time, established plants will accumulate a large amount of dead plant detritus. Remove extra vegetation to promote new growth and to prevent the plant from spreading to unwanted areas.


Sea oats cannot be harvested from the wild for any reason without a legal permit. Unlike many other types of grass, sea oats do not produce many seeds.

They are propagated from their root fragments or through division. Sea oats can be divided into planters before they are planted in the ground.

close up photograph of sea oats grass

How to Use Sea Oats in Landscapes

Sea oats grass is highly valued for stabilizing sand and soil. It grows in clumps when on beaches, which allows it to gather and hold wind-blown sand. Because of their lateral root system and their deep taproots, sea oats help minimize storm-related damage to dunes.

Sea oats grass also serves as a year-round habitat and food source for insects, small animals, and birds in the late fall and winter.

It is occasionally grown and used for ornamental purposes.

Companion Plants

tall grasses growing along the seashore

Seashore Dropseed

Seashore dropseed is an attractive and robust ornamental grass that enhances a garden’s biodiversity. The name “dropseed” refers to the small mature seeds that fall from the plant’s hull in the fall.

Plant it to help prevent erosion, particularly near wind-eroded coastlines.

bunch of seashore dropseed in the sea

Saltmeadow Cordgrass

Saltmeadow cordgrass has delicate, fountain-like leaves and can grow 3 – 4 feet tall. Many organisms depend on this grass for food and shelter.

Saltmeadow cordgrass helps reduce coastal erosion around dunes, riverbanks, and salt marshes. It can tolerate salt water, salt spray, sandblasting, and sand buildup.

Necklace Pod

This plant can be found growing on sandy beaches or rocky cliffs. It’s a lovely shrub that has stunning pea-shaped flowers and fruit pods that resemble strings of beads.

Necklace pods thrive on the inland side of dunes and can withstand high levels of saltwater spray.

beautiful yellow leaves of necklace pod
Jeffrey Douglas
Jeffrey Douglas own a landscaping company and has been in the business for over 20 years. He loves all things related to lawns or gardens and believes that proper maintenance is the key to preventing problems in the first place.
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