Perennials for Moist Areas

As with a hot, dry site, why fight the conditions offered by heavy, wet, or boggy soil?  Do you really have the time or money to install drainage tiles as most garden books advise for such sites?  Where too much soil moisture rots most perennials, select those whose roots seek water and they will reward you.  In many cases, these will be perennials that gave you trouble in other sites-probably because you couldn’t satisfy their thirst requirements.  If the site has a natural body of water, such as a stream or small standing pond, you can create a tranquil, natural-looking water garden with moisture-loving ferns and perennials.


You may decide that your damp or boggy garden site is a blessing rather than a detriment after discovering some of the fine perennials that will flourish there and nowhere else.  In damp soil, you’ll be able to grow some unusual and dramatically tall perennials that aren’t seen in many gardens.  Plants that thrive with wet feet include the feathery, pink-flowered Japanese meadowsweet (Filipendula purpurea), golden bigleaf goldenray (Ligularia dentate) with its purple-tinged stems and leaves, bold-blossomed Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium purpureum), and elegant cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), to name a few.


Aconitum – Monkshood


Adiantum pedatum – Northern    Maidenhair


Aegopodium – Snow on the Mountain


Alchemilla millis – Lady’s Mantle


Artemesia lactiflora – Wormwood


Aruncus dioicus – Goatsbeard


Astilbe x arendsii – False Spirea


Athyrium nipponicum – Painted Ferns


Caltha palustris – Marsh marigold


Campanula glomerata – Clustered Bellflower


Chelone lyonii – Turtle head


Cimicifuga racemosa – Bugbane


Coreopsis verticillata – Thread-leaf Coreopsis


Digitalis – Foxglove


Dodecantheon meadia – Shooting Stars


Dryopteris spp. – Male ferns


Erythonium americanum – Trout lily


Eupatorium purpureum – Joe-Pye Weed


Filipendula purpurea – Meadowsweet


Gunnera – Gunnera


Hemerocallis – Daylily


Hosta spp. – Plaintain lily


Houttuynia – Chameleon plant


Iris chrysographes – Black Iris


Iris ensata – Japanese Iris


Iris psuedocorus – Water Iris


Iris versicolor – Blue Flags


Liatris squarossa – Blazing Stars


Ligularia dentate – Golden ray


Liriope spp. – Lilyturf


Lobelia cardinalis – Cardinal Flower


Lobelia siphilitica – Blue Lobelia


Lysimachia cleth. – Gooseneck Loosestrife


Lysimachia punctata –  Yellow Loosestrife


Lysimachia nummularia – Moneywort


Malva – Hollyhock Mallow


Matteuccia – Ostrich Fern


Mentha spp. – Mint varieties


Mertensia – Virginia Blue Bells


Mimulus – Monkey Flower


Monarda – Bee Balm


Myosotis – Forget-me-nots


Osmunda cinnamomea – Cinnamon Fern


Osmunda regalis – Royal Fern


Petasites – Butterbur


Phalris arundinacea – Ribbon Grass


Phlox divaricata – Sweet Phlox


Physostegia virginiana – Obedient Plant


Polygonatum spp. – Solomon’s Seal


Polystichum spp. – Shield Fern


Primula japonica – Japanese Primrose


Rodgersia spp. – Fringeleaf Rodgersia


Rudbeckia spp. – Coneflower


Thaliactrum – Meadow Rue


Tradescantia – Spiderwort


Trollius - Globeflower