The Q&A Archives: water loving plants

Question: I have a large area in my yard where most of the water from my house as well as 2 neighbors homes drains and sits. The neighbor has rasied their area so I get the water. Grass will not grow. What can I plant here, bushes or shrubs, that will thrive?

Answer: Here are some suggestions for shrubs that will tolerate wet soils: Red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia) is an upright, suckering, multi-stemmed shrub that grows 6 to 8 feet tall. Red chokeberry is noted for its red fruit in late summer and fall. Leaves turn a reddish purple in fall. The variety 'Brilliantissima' produces excellent fall foliage color (scarlet) and a large crop of glossy red fruit. Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) is typically found along stream banks, lake shores, and other wet areas. The shrub has glossy green foliage and produces creamy- white flowers in globular heads in August. Its mature height is about 6 feet, though it can grow up to 12 to 15 feet in southern areas of the United States. Although not widely planted, summersweet clethra (Clethra alnifolia) is an excellent shrub for the home landscape. It is native to wet areas and will grow in full sun or heavy shade. Summersweet clethra produces small, white, fragrant flowers on spike-like structures. The flowers appear in mid-summer and remain attractive for 3 to 4 weeks. Bees and butterflies find the flowers irresistible. The foliage of summersweet clethra is a lustrous, dark green. In the fall, the leaves turn to a pale yellow or golden brown. Plant size is variable and determined by soil and moisture conditions. Summersweet clethra can grow to 3 to 8 feet tall and 4 to 6 feet wide. The cultivar 'Rosea' produces pink flowers which fade to pinkish white. 'Pink Spires' produces rose- pink flower buds which open to soft pink.

Silky dogwood (Cornus amomum) is a shrub commonly found along streambanks, wet prairies, and at the edges of bottomland woods. Silky dogwood produces flat- topped clusters of yellowish white flowers. Fruit is bluish with white blotches. Silky dogwood is a rounded shrub which grows approximately 6 to 10 feet tall with a similar spread. Another dogwood suggestion is the redosier dogwood (Cornus sericea). It grows about 6 to 8 feet tall. The redosier dogwood is noted for its red-colored twigs in winter. Several varieties are available. 'Cardinal' is an introduction from the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Its twigs are bright red in winter. 'Isanti' and 'Kelseyi' are compact, red-stemmed shrubs. 'Flaviramea' has yellow stems. Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) is a deciduous holly. The deep green leaves drop off in the fall revealing bright red fruit. The shrub attains a height of 6 to 10 feet. Hollies are dioecious. Male and female flowers are produced on separate plants. The cultivars 'Sparkleberry,' 'Winter Red,' and 'Christmas Cheer' produce abundant bright red berries. A male cultivar, such as 'Southern Gentleman' or 'Jim Dandy,' is required for pollination. Winterberries do require acid soils. Purpleosier willow (Salix purpurea) is an 8 to 10 foot shrub. 'Nana' is a compact form which grows about 4 feet tall. 'Streamco' is a Soil Conservation Service, USDA introduction which was developed to prevent soil erosion along stream banks. The purpleosier willow is one of many willows that grow well in wet soils. American elder (Sambucus canadensis) is a native suckering shrub that produces large clusters of purple-black fruit in late summer. The ripened fruit are good for jellies, preserves, and wines. The fruit are also attractive to birds. Its mature height is 6 to 10 feet. 'Aurea' and 'Laciniata' are two cultivars which have greater landscape potential than the species. 'Aurea' has golden-yellow foliage and red fruit, while 'Laciniata' has cutleaf foliage. Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica) and common sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus) are two additional shrubs that do well in moist to wet soils. Hope these suggestions are helpful.

« Click to go to the homepage

» Ask a question of your own

Q&A Library Searching Tips

  • When singular and plural spellings differ, as in peony and peonies, try both.
  • Search terms are not case sensitive.

Today's site banner is by cocoajuno and is called "Here's looking at you."