The present study identified inverse relationships between nickel (Ni) levels and growth, photosynthesis and physio-biochemical attributes, but increasing levels of Ni stress enhanced methylglyoxal, electrolyte leakage, hydrogen peroxide, and lipid peroxidation content. Exogenous application of salicylic acid (SA) (10 −5 M) ameliorated the ill-effects of Ni by restoring growth, photosynthesis and physio-biochemical attributes and increasing the activities of enzymes associated with antioxidant systems, especially the ascorbate–glutathione (AsA–GSH) cycle and glyoxalase system. In addition, SA application to Ni-stressed plants had an additive effect on the activities of the ascorbate and glutathione pools, and the AsA–GSH cycle enzymes (ascorbate peroxidase, monodehydroascorbate reductase, dehydroascorbate reductase, glutathione reductase), superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione S-transferase, and osmolyte biosynthesis). This trend also follows in glyoxalase system viz. glyoxalase I and glyoxalase II enzymes. Nevertheless, exogenous SA supplementation restored mineral nutrient contents. Principal component analysis showed that growth, photosynthesis, and mineral nutrient parameters were positively correlated with each other and negatively correlated with antioxidant enzymes and oxidative stress biomarkers. Hence, SA is an alternative compound with potential application in the phytoremediation of Ni.