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Rain Garden Plants Typically Consist of Native Grasses, Sedges and Wildflowers

There has been a great interest these past few years in rain gardens - in fact, you might say it has been the rage. And why not? They hold water, filter water, provide habitat, and add a unique element to almost any landscape. They are, in effect, a no -brainer.

The process of establishing a successful rain garden, however, is not quite so simple. There are issues with drainage, soils, water quality and, most of all, with plants. Just exactly what will grow or even flourish where there might be standing water one month only to be followed by a complete dry-down the next. Finding the right plants for rain gardens can be challenging.

Fortunately, careful analysis of native plants and their growing conditions can provide solutions. It turns out there are actually native plants that can grow in these highly variable conditions. All we need to do is observe which species they are and use them to create diverse, hardy and beautiful rain garden designs.

Remember, the specific characteristics of the garden such as soil type, drainage rate, light availability and overall design will ultimately dictate which species should be chosen for your particular project.

After years of experience, here is a general list of species that we would recommend.

Sweet flag (Acorus calamus)
Canada anemone (Anemone canadensis)
Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
Panicled aster (Aster lanceolatus)
New England aster (Aster novae-angliae)
Red-stemmed aster (Aster puniceus)
Joe-pye weed (Eupatoreum perfoliatum)
Grass-leaved goldenrod (Euthamia graminifolia)
Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale)
Wet sunflowers (Helianthus sp.)
Common ox-eye (Heliopsis helianthoides)
Blue flag iris (Iris versicolor)
Tall blazing star (Liatris pycnostachya)
Blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)
Obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana)
Mountain mint (Pycnanthemum virginianum)
Brown-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia subtomentosa)
Arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia)
Tall meadow rue (Thalictrum dasycarpum)
Blue vervain (Verbena fasciculate)
Culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginicum)
Golden Alexander (Zizia aurea)
Grasses, Sedges and Ferns
Fringed brome (Bromus ciliatus)
Blue joint grass (Calamagrostis canadensis)
Water sedge (Carex aquatilis)
Bottlebrush sedge (Carex comosa)
Caterpillar sedge (Carex crinita)
Porcupine sedge (Carex hystericina)
Lake sedge (Carex lacustris)
Pointed broom sedge (Carex scoparia)
Fox sedge (Cares vulpinoidea)
Virginia wild rye (Elymus virginicus)
Soft rush (Juncus effuses)
Sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis)
Royal fern (Osmunda regalis)
Switch grass (Panicum virgatum)
Green bulrush (Scirpus atrovirens)
Wool grass (Scirpus cyperinus)
River bulrush (Scirpus fluviatilis)
Soft stem bulrush (Scirpus validus)
Giant bur-reed (Sparganium eurycarpum)
Cord grass (Spartina pectinata)

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