Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

Garden Plants for Moist Soil

20150810AMany garden plants sold for typical well-drained flowerbeds are actually very tolerant of wet soils. In fact, if given a choice, they’d opt for a spot where their roots could dip into water or, at the very least, grow in constantly moist soil. That means you can grow these plants not only in that depression where the soil is always soggy, but also on the edge of a water garden, lake or stream or even in the water garden itself, with their crown just at or slightly above water level. Their ability to withstanding flooding for days on end also makes them ideal choices for rain gardens (gardens designed to catch and hold storm water runoff).

Here are a few examples:

  1. Acer rubra (red maple) zone 3
  2. Acorus calamus (sweet flag) zone 4
  3. Acorus gramineus (grassy-leaved sweet flag) zone 4
  4. Andromeda polifolia (bog-rosemary) zone 3
  5. Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem) zone 4
  6. Aronia arbutifolia (swamp milkweed) zone 4b
  7. Aruncus dioicus (goat’s beard) zone 3
  8. Arundo donax (giant reed) zone 6
  9. Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed) zone 3
  10. Aster novae-angliae (aster) zone 4
  11. Astilbe spp. (astilbe) zone 4
  12. Begonia x semperflorens-cultorum (wax begonia) annual
  13. Betula nigra (river birch) zone 3
  14. Caltha palustris (marsh marigold) zone 3
  15. Canna spp. (canna) tender bulb
  16. Carex grayii (Gray’s sedge) zone 2
  17. Carex muskingumensis (palm sedge) zone 2
  18. Cephalanthus occidentalis (buttonwood) zone 4
  19. Chamaedaphne calyculata (leatherleaf) zone 1
  20. Cimicifuga racemosa, syn. Actaea racemosa (black bugbane) zone 3
  21. Cleome hasslerana (cleome) annual
  22. Clethra alnifolia (summersweet) zone 4b
  23. Colocasia esculenta (taro) tender bulb
  24. Cornus alba (Siberian dogwood) zone 2
  25. Cornus sanguinea (common dogwood) zone 2
  26. Cornus sericea (red osier dogwood) zone 2
  27. Darmera peltata (umbrella plant) zone 4
  28. Digitalis purpurea (foxglove) zone 4
  29. Dirca palustris (leatherwood) zone 4
  30. Eupatorium maculatum (spotted Joe Pye weed) zone 3
  31. Euphorbia palustris (swamp euphorbia) annual
  32. Filipendula spp. (meadowsweet, queen-of-the-meadow, queen-of-the-prairie) zone 3
  33. Glyceria maxima (reed mannagrass) zone 3
  34. Hibiscus moscheutos (perennial hibiscus, rose mallow) zone 5
  35. Hosta spp. (hosta) zone 3
  36. Houttuynia cordata ‘Chameleon’ (chameleon plant) zone 4
  37. Ilex glabra (inkberry) zone 3b
  38. Ilex verticillata (winterberry) zone 3b
  39. Impatiens capensis (jewelweed) annual
  40. Impatiens walleriana (impatiens) annual
  41. Iris ensata, syn. I. kaempferi (Japanese iris) zones 4 to 6, depending on cultivar
  42. Iris sibirica (Siberian iris) zone 3
  43. Iris versicolor (blue flag) zone 3
  44. Juncus effusus (common rush) zone 4
  45. Ledum groenlandicum (Labrador tea) zone 1
  46. Ligularia spp. (ligularia, leopard plant) zones 3-4, depending on variety
  47. Lobelia cardinalis (cardinal flower) zone 2
  48. Luzula nivea (snowy woodrush) zone 4
  49. Luzula sylvatica (woodrush) zone 3
  50. Lysimachia nummularia (creeping Jenny, moneywort) zone 3
  51. Lysimachia spp. (loosestrife) zone 3
  52. Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife) zone 3
  53. Matteuccia struthiopteris (ostrich fern) zone 3
  54. Mertensia virginica (Virginia blueblue) zone 2
  55. Mimulus spp. (monkey-flower) annual or zone 4
  56. Miscanthus purpurascens (purple maidengrass) zone 4
  57. Monarda spp. (beebalm) zone 3
  58. Myosotis scorpioides (marsh forget-me-not) zone 4
  59. Myrica gale (sweet gale) zone 2
  60. Myrica pensylvanica (bayberry) zone 4b
  61. Nyssa sylvatica (tupelo) zone 6
  62. Oenanthe javanica ‘Flamingo’ (Flamingo dropwort) zone 5
  63. Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern) zone 3
  64. Osmunda spp. (flowering fern) zone 3
  65. Panicum virgatum (Prairie switchgrass) zone 4
  66. Papyrus spp. (papyrus) tender perennial
  67. Petasites spp. (butterbur) zones 2 to 9, depending on species
  68. Phalaris arundinacea (gardener’s garters) zone 3
  69. Phragmites australis (common reed) zone 3
  70. Pontederia cordata (pickerelweed ) zone 3
  71. Populus spp. (poplar, aspen) zones 2 to 7, depending on species
  72. Potentilla fruticosa (shrubby cinquefoil) zone 2
  73. Primula spp. (primrose) zones 2 to 9
  74. Quercus palustris (pin oak) zone 4
  75. Rhododendron viscosum (swamp azalea) zone 4
  76. Salix spp. (willon) zones 1 to 10, depending on species
  77. Sambucus spp. (elderberry) zones 2 to 6, depending on species
  78. Sarracenia spp. (pitcher plant) zones 2 to 7, depending on species
  79. Spartina pectinata (prairie cordgrass) zone 5
  80. Taxodium distichum (bald cypress) zone 6
  81. Thuja occidentalis (arborvitae) zone 3
  82. Torenia spp. (wishbone flower) annual
  83. Trollius spp. (globeflower) zone 3
  84. Viburnum opulus (European cranberrybush) zone 3
  85. Viburnum trilobum (American cranberrybush) zone 2
  86. Viola x wittrockiana (pansy) annual
  87. Zantedeschia spp. (calla) tender bulb

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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