Enhance Your Wet Outdoor Areas with These 16 Water-Loving Plants

Use this area to grow plants which thrive in damp areas. The right plants can absorb moisture, preventing runoff in other parts of your yard. This easy gardening technique is much cheaper than installing a French drain or landscape pond, as well as installing a French drainage, dry creek bed.

There are many native and naturalized plants that have evolved to thrive in moist soil. They can be used as landscaping solutions where drainage is an issue. Here are 16 beautiful landscape plants that love “wet feet.”

Water Loving Plants list
Tip
It’s not always easy to locate native, hardy wetland species at nurseries. However, your local horticultural association or landscape arboretum can recommend stores that carry them.

01

Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)
Black chokeberry with berries

Black chokeberry grows up to about 3 to 6 feet tall and wide. It has showy white flowers in the spring that are followed by small black berries which attract birds. In the fall, its foliage turns reddish purple.

It is native to damp swamps and thickets. As long as it is evenly moist, this plant can adapt to any type of soil. Be sure to remove any root suckers as soon as possible to avoid unwanted spread.

USDA Hardiness Zones 3-8
Flower Color Varieties : White flowers, followed by blackberries
Light: From full sun to partial shade
Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-draining
Mature Size : 3-6 ft. Tall and Wide
Deer Resistant: No
02

Winterberry (Ilex Verticillata).
Red Winterberry Holly Tree Branch

Winterberry is indigenous to the swampy areas of eastern North America. It prefers acidic, loamy soil. The woody shrubs can grow from 3 to 12 feet tall and wide, depending on their variety.

Winterberry is dioecious. This means that you will need to have a plant of the opposite gender growing nearby in order for it to produce fruit. In the spring, prune your plants in order to give them a nice shape.

USDA Hardiness Zones 3-9
Flower Color Varieties Greenish White
Light: Full sun or partial shade
Average, acidic and medium to moist soils
Mature size: 3-12 feet tall and wide
Deer Resistant: No
03

Inkberry Bush
Inkberry holly on a wooden fence

Inkberry is also native to the eastern part of North America where it can be found in swamps and bogs. This evergreen shrub has a height of 5 to 8 feet and a spread of around 3 to 4 feet. It produces black berries early in the fall when plants with opposite sexes are planted close together.

The shrubs need only minimal shaping, but it is best to do this in early spring before the seasonal growth starts.

USDA Hardiness Zones 4-9
Flower color varieties: Greenish-white (not showy).
Light: Full sun or partial shade
Soil needs: Medium to moist
Mature Size: 5 to 8 ft. tall and wide
Deer Resistant: Yes
04

Salix discolor (Pussy Willow)
The pussywillow

The Pussy Willow is a shrub that grows in wetlands throughout North America, including meadows, swamps, and lakes and streams. It can tolerate some dry soil.

These shrubs can grow up to 15 feet high and spread 4 to 12 feet wide under the right conditions. As needed, prune them in late winter or early Spring.

USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 8
Flower Color Varieties: Yellow
Light: From full sun to partial shade
Soil needs: Medium to moist, well draining
Mature size: 6-15 feet tall, 4-12 feet width
Deer Resistant: Yes
05

Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia)
Sweet pepperbush bloom

Summersweet is also called sweet pepperbush. It grows in marshes and wet woods as well as near streams and beaches. It can grow up to 8 feet high with a spread of 4 to 6 feet. It produces fragrant, long flower spikes in the summer that attract bees and butterflies.

Watering or rainfall will help to keep the soil moist around your shrub. Trim it as necessary in late winter.

USDA Hardiness Zones 3-9
White Flower Color Varieties
Light: Full sun or partial shade
Average, Medium to Wet Soil
Mature Size: 3-8 ft. tall, 4-6 ft. wide
Deer Resistant: No
06

Tatarian Dogwood

Tatarian dogwood is also called red-twig dogswood and prefers a consistently moist soil. This shrub is valued for its bright red bark and can grow up to 8-10 feet tall and wide.

Trim about a quarter off the old stems each spring to encourage new growth. Consider the yellow-twig Dogwood (Cornus serricea ‘Flaviramea) if you prefer a shrub that has golden bark.

USDA Hardiness Zones 3-7
White Flower Color Varieties
Light: Full sun or partial shade
Soil needs: rich, moist and well-draining
Mature Size: 8-10 feet tall and wide
Deer Resistant: Yes
07

Horsetail (Equisetum hybridum)

Horsetails can grow in a wide range of conditions. This includes soil that is damp. These plants are found in the wild growing near water and in moist woods. These plants grow from 2 to 4 feet high with a 1 to 6 foot spread.

They can spread aggressively under the right conditions.1 Be sure to remove all rhizomes, underground stems that sprout new shoots, from areas where you do not want them.

USDA Hardiness Zones 4-9
Flower Color Varieties: Nonflowering
Sun exposure: full sun to partial shade
Soil needs: Medium to moist
Mature Size: 2-4 ft. tall, 1-6 ft. wide
Deer Resistant: No
08

Leopard Plant (Ligularia dentata ‘Britt-Marie Crawford’)
Flowers of Leopard Plant

Leopard plants are a good choice for rain gardens and water features. The yellow flowers that bloom in the early summer are similar to daisies. Its large, dark purple leaves have some green undertones. This plant can reach 2 to 3 feet in height with a smaller spread.

Soil will never dry out if you water it regularly and deeply. It is important to provide some shade in the hotter months.

USDA Hardiness Zones 3-8
Flower Color Varieties: Yellow
Light: partial sun, full shade
Rich, medium or wet soils
Mature Size: 2-3 ft. tall, 18-30 in. Approximately 18-30 in. wide
Deer Resistant: No
09

Marsh Marigold (Caltha Palustris)

You may have seen marsh marigolds blooming in springtime on a bog. These plants are great for the garden around water features, particularly on the edges of ponds.

Even a little standing water can be used to grow them. Marsh marigolds can reach a height of 12 to 18 inches and a spread of around 6 to 8 inches. The plants are low maintenance, but you’ll need to give them some shade in the hotter months.

USDA Hardiness Zones 3-7
Flower Color Varieties: Yellow
Light: Full sun or partial sun
Soil Conditions: Boggy, wet
Mature Size : 12-18 Inches tall and wide
Deer Resistant: Yes
10

Yellow Trout Lily

Yellow trout lily is also called yellow adder’s tongue. It grows in North America in moist woods, along streams, and thrives in the shade. It’s a great plant for shade gardens or around ponds. The spring blooms are yellow before the plant goes dormant.

It can be grown from seed but it may take up to five years for the plant to flower. Many gardeners prefer to use offsets of mature plants.

USDA Hardiness Zones 3-8
Flower Color Varieties: Yellow
Light: partial shade, full shade
Soil Needs: Humusy, acidic, moist
Mature Size: 6 to 8 inches Tall, wide
Deer Resistant: No
11

Blue Flag Iris

Blue flag iris, a water-loving iris, is native to North America’s meadows and marshes. It also grows in swamps. It can reach a height of 24 to 30 inches and spread out to a width of around 12 to 15 inches. In late spring, it blooms with blue-violet flowers.

Be sure to give your plant enough moisture. Even a little standing water will do. This plant is susceptible for several insects.

USDA Hardiness Zones 3-9
Flower Color Varieties: Blue-violet
Light: Full sun or partial shade
Soil Needs: Humusy, moist
Mature size: between 24 and 30 inches tall.
Deer Resistant: Yes
12

Joe Pye Weed, Eupatorium maculatum
Joe Pye Weed

Joe Pye Weed is a great tall plant to use in a sunny rain garden. Joe Pye weed is a perennial that can reach heights of up to 5 feet and a spread of 2 feet. However, it’s possible to grow plants as tall as 7 feet. In the summer, it bears mauve-colored flowers that attract butterflies.

Even though this plant likes to be in full sun, it may need some shade on hot afternoons. Late winter, cut your plant to the ground to encourage new growth.

USDA Hardiness Zones 3-9
Flower Color Varieties: Mauve
Light: Full Sun
Soil needs: Rich, moist to medium
Mature Size: 4-7 ft. tall, 2 ft. wide
Deer Resistant: Yes
13

Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
Cardinal flower in bloom

Cardinal flowers prefer moist soil with rich nutrients. Wild, you’ll find them along rivers and swamps as well as in low-lying woodland areas. They’re also a great choice to grow around a pond. They can reach 2 to 4 feet in height with a 1 to 2-foot spread.

Provide your plants with some shade in the afternoon during the hottest time of the year. Mulch can help retain moisture in the soil.

USDA Hardiness Zones 3-9
Flower Color Varieties – Red, White, Rose
Light: Full sun or partial shade
Rich, Medium to Wet Soil
Mature size: 2-4 ft. tall, 1-2 ft. wide
Deer Resistant: Yes
14

Swamp Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus)
The Swamp Hibiscus Flower in the marsh.

Swamp hibiscus, also known as rose mallow, is a perennial woody-stemmed plant with scarlet flowers similar to hollyhocks that blooms from midsummer until fall. These are tall plants, which may require staking in some locations.

Swamp hibiscus can be planted in large groups to cover large areas of moist soil.

USDA Hardiness Zones 6-9
Flower Color Varieties: Deep red
Light: Full sun or partial shade
Soil needs: Medium to wet, average.
Mature size: 3-6 ft. tall, 2-3 ft. wide
Deer Resistant: Yes
15

Hardy Hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos)
Pink hardy hibiscus flowers (Hibiscus moscheutos)

Hibiscus moscheutos is a classic hibiscus that works well in moist areas. However, hibiscus varieties can work equally well in damp areas, and they are more cold-hardy than swamp hibiscus. Most of these hybrids are complex, with H. laevis and H. moscheutos as their parents.

The woody stems of these perennials will produce vibrant pink and red flowers from midsummer to fall. In colder climates, they should be cut back to the ground for winter.
USDA Hardiness Zones 5-9
Flower color varieties: pink with reddish eyes, red
Light: Full Sun
Soil Needs: Average, medium-moisture to wet
Mature size: 3-4 ft. tall, 2-4 ft. wide
Deer Resistant: Yes
16

Giant Elephant Ears
Lava Tree State Park, Nanawale Forest Reserve: Giant leaf elephant ear

Southern gardeners may want to consider giant elephant ears in areas with moist soil for a tropical feel. The plants are hardy to zone 8 and the south, but they will die if temperatures drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

Gardeners must be prepared to provide them with regular feedings. They prefer to stay constantly moist. The huge leaves hide the yellow-white spring flowers.

USDA Hardiness Zones 8-11
Flower color varieties: Yellow-white, not showy
Light: Full sun or partial shade
Soil Needs: Moist, acidic
Mature size: 3-8 feet tall and wide
Deer Resistant: No


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