The Q&A Archives: planting in wet area

Question: I have an extremely wet area that needs plants. Our yard drains in one place and we just had to move an evergreen due to the dirt staying so wet. I need to plant plants that like really wet dirt. I prefer ones that do not die off and preferably long lasting flowers. What can you recommend?

Answer: You might be surprised how many shrubs and perennials will tolerate continually soggy soils. Below is a list of candidate plants. Plants with an asterisk (*) following their name indicates that those species have been known to tolerate flooded conditions for extended periods of time.


Aronia arbutifolia (red chokeberry)
Baccharis halimifolia (groundsel tree)
Cephalanthus occidentalis (button bush)*
Clethra acuminata (cinnamon clethra)
Clethra alnifolia (summersweet)
Cornus alba (tartarian Dogwood)*
Cornus sericea (red osier dogwood)*
Cornus amomum (silky dogwood)*
Cyrilla racemiflora (swamp cyrilla)
Dirca palustris (leatherwood)
Euonymus americana (American euonymus)
Fothergilla spp. (fothergilla)
Hibiscus syriacus (rose-of-sharon)
Ilex cassine (dahoon holly)
Ilex glabra (inkberry)
Ilex verticillata (winterberry)*
Ilex vomitoria (yaupon holly)*
Illicium spp. (anise-tree)
Itea spp. (sweetspire)
Leucothoe fontanesiana (leucothoe)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Myrica spp. (bayberry/waxmyrtle)
Physocarpus opulifolius (ninebark)
Rhamnus caroliniana (Carolina buckthorn)
Rhododendron arborescens (sweet azalea)
Rhododendron atlanticum (coastal azalea)
Rhododendron vaseyi (pinkshell azalea)
Rhododendron viscosum (swamp azalea)
Rosa virginiana (virginia rose)
Sambucus canadensis (elderberry)
Spiraea tomentosa (hardhack)
Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry)
Viburnum alnifolium (hobblebush)
Viburnum cassinoides (witherod viburnum)
Viburnum opulus (European cranberrybush viburnum)

Herbaceous Perennials and Shallow Water/Bog Plants

Acorus calamus (sweet flag)*
Astilbe spp. (astilbe)
Butomus umbellatus (flowering rush)*
Calla palustris (bog arum)*
Caltha palustris (marsh marigold)*
Canna x generalis (Water canna)*
Carex spp. (sedge)
Eleocharis acicularis (spike rush)*
Eupatorium dubium (Joe Pye weed)
Equisetum hyemale (horsetail)*
Hibiscus moscheutos (rose mallow)
Iris ensata (Japanese water iris)*
Iris laevigata (water iris)*
Iris pseudacorus (yellow flag)*
Iris siberica (Siberian iris)
Iris vericolor (blue flag)*
Iris virginica (southern blue flag)*
Juncus spp. (rush)*
Leersia oryzoides (rice cutgrass)*
Lobelia cardinalis (cardinal flower)
Lobelia siphilitica (great lobelia)
Lysimachia clethroides (gooseneck loosetrife)
Myosotis scoparius (water forget-me-not)
Orontium aquaticum (golden club)*
Peltandra virginica (hardy arum)*
Pontederia cordata (pickerel weed)*
Sagittaria spp. (arrowwhead)*
Sarracenia spp. (pitcher plant)
Saururus cernuus (lizard's tail)*
Schoenoplectus validus (soft stem bulrush)*
Scirpus americanus (common threesquare)*
Spartina alterniflora (cordgrass)*
Typha spp. (cattail)*
Vernonia noveboracensis (iron weed)

Hope this information is helpful.

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