Poorly drained soil can spell disaster for many flowering plants, as the soggy soil chokes out oxygen to the roots killing the plants. But, not all plants have an aversion to moist soil. The trick to growing flowers in areas where the drainage is poor is to choose plants that thrive in wet soil. Try these five plants to enhance the beauty of your yard despite your problems with drainage.
1. Siberian Iris (Iris siberica)
The stately Siberian iris produces purple/blue blooms atop slender stalks. The foliage is grass-like with slender blades. This plant thrives in areas where the soil remains wet all year and will even survive in standing water. Blooms appear in mid to late spring, but the attractive foliage adds dimension to your flowerbed all year. This perennial is hardy in US Plant Hardiness Zones 3 through 9 and returns each year in bigger clumps.
2. Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
The cardinal flower is known for its brilliant red blooms and bronze or green foliage. It attracts both butterflies and hummingbirds, setting your garden abuzz with activity all summer. It can be grown as a perennial in US Plant Hardiness Zones 3 through 9 and tolerates poorly drained soil. It reaches heights of 1 to 6 feet, depending on the variety. Plant cardinal flowers in areas of your yard with poor drainage to create an oasis of color and movement.
3. Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)
For shaded areas that do not drain well, try the ostrich fern. Ferns create a lush green backdrop with a lacy appearance and give the illusion of a tropical oasis. These ferns thrive in plant hardiness zones 2 through 8 and actually perform best when the soil remains soggy in the spring. They require little to no care, and the lacy foliage remains until the frost strikes in the fall. Use the ostrich fern for a carefree plant to add interest to poorly drained areas in your yard.
4. Calla Lily (Zantedeschia)
For those in southern climates, the Calla Lily is a good choice for poorly drained soils. This plant thrives in plant hardiness zones 7 through 10. Gardeners in cooler regions must dig up the bulbs before the ground freezes in the fall and store them inside for the winter. Calla Lilies come in a variety of colors from traditional white, pink and yellow to red, maroon and bronze. These impressive flowers lend a touch of the exotic to your backyard. They make excellent cut flowers and are often used in bridal bouquets or as cut flowers in summer displays.
5. Hydrangea: (Hydrangea spp)
For a more dramatic display of color in poorly drained areas, try planting hydrangea. This shrub thrives in planting zones 4 through 9 and produces showy clusters of pink, blue or white blooms from mid-summer until fall. Hydrangeas are known for their amazing ability to produce either pink or blue blooms depending on the acidity of the soil. In acidic soil with a pH of 5.0 to 5.5, this shrub produces blue flowers, but if the pH of the soil is above 6.0, it produces pink blooms. You can change the color of the blooms on your hydrangea by altering the pH of the soil in the spring when the first new growth appears. The plant grows to heights of 4 to 12 feet, depending on the cultivar.
Growing plants that thrive in the soil you have is infinitely easier than battling the forces of nature and trying to adjust the soil to meet the needs of plants that require well-drained soil. These plants make it easy to create a flower garden in areas with poorly drained soil. You can read more about solving drainage issues when landscaping by following the link in this article.