Thursday, June 18, 2020

Great Plants For Your Rain Garden

Rain Garden

In an earlier blog article – How To Create A Rain Garden – we discussed an important element – rain garden planting zones. Here's what you need to know.

Divide your rain garden into zones, and select plants appropriate to each. Depending on the size of the garden, you might choose plants ranging in size from low ground covers to perennials, small or even large shrubs.

    • Zone 1 is the deepest where water will stand the longest. Plants for this area should be able to thrive in standing water for awhile.

    • Zone 2 is an intermediate area where water will stand for short periods, but drain away. It is just above and wraps around Zone 1. Plants for this area should be able to grow in wet or dry ground.

    • Zone 3 is the uppermost, wrapping around the other two, and will be the driest. Plants for this area should be able to withstand periods of dry weather.

Here are some plant suggestions for each zone.

Zone 1

  • Blue Sedge with its blue-green arching leaves is a perfect plant for that area where drainage is a problem. It's ideal for naturalizing, bog gardens, rain gardens, water gardens, container gardens, and erosion control. As a lawn substitute, it will tolerate some foot traffic. It's also deer resistant! Carex 'Bunny Blue'® is a very attractive variety.
  • Japanese Sweet Flag thrives in wetlands like along ponds, rain gardens or pools, and can even grow when submersed. It's one of the best grassy solutions for those problem areas with poorly drained soils.
  • Golden Creeping Jenny is an excellent ground cover solution for any size area. It's also successful in container gardens, hanging baskets, bog gardens and perennial borders. Because it tolerates some foot traffic, Lysimachia is perfect around patios and between stepping stones.
  • Mazus is a preferred ground cover for moist soils of any size area. Lush green leaves form a low, dense mat. Foliage is evergreen in warmer climates to semi-evergreen in cooler zones. Small, lavender or white flowers bloom from spring to summer.
  •  Mondo grass is tolerant of wet areas as well as dry. It’s deer resistant, and tolerates some foot traffic.
  • Royal Fern is a lovely native species that performs well in a wide range of climate zones. Light green fronds with burgundy-tinged edges emerge in spring, and turn medium green during the growing season. In fall, fronds turn yellow shades. Royal fern is clump-forming. Mature height is 24 inches to 60 inches. Foliage is dormant in winter. Royal fern is deer resistant.

Zone 2

  • Appalachian Sedge is a graceful plant, native to the Eastern U.S. It has very fine, dark green, weeping blades, 12" long.  The leaf blades are evergreen in warmer climates. It has a clumping habit, and spreads slowly, making it suitable for borders. It's a great ground cover and lawn-grass substitute in dry shade.
  • Creeping Lily Turf is a choice plant for a low maintenance ground cover in sun or shade. Evergreen foliage forms a dense, grassy covering that tolerates foot traffic, making it a fine lawn grass substitute, especially for those areas you'd prefer not to mow. It can take a period of wet weather, as well as drought.
  • Blue Star Creeper is amazing. It tolerates a wide variety of soil conditions – wet or dry. If you're looking for a low-maintenance, low-profile, quickly growing ground cover with a long bloom season, consider Blue Star Creeper. Use it where you want a low-maintenance cover at a distance from high-traffic areas.
  • Mondo grass, as mentioned above, is tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions. If you need a low-maintenance, lush, evergreen grass substitute for full sun to shade that tolerates a wide range of soil conditions, we highly recommend Mondo.
  • Pennsylvania Sedge is a fine native plant choice for dry shade.  Use it for naturalizing, and erosion control. Pennsylvania sedge is deer resistant, too.

Zone 3

  • Achillea – Yarrow. Achillea has long-lasting flowers, is drought-tolerant, repels pests, and is aromatic.
  • Ajuga – Bugleweed. Ajuga is a drought-tolerant evergreen plant prized for its dynamic color that stays compact and thick year round.
  • Asiatic Jasmine is a very desirable for ground cover and borders in warmer climates. It can be neatly edged for a manicured appearance. Asiatic Jasmine thrives in sun or shade, suppresses weeds, and resists hungry deer. Its dense habit will slow any rapid flow of water.
  • Appalachian Sedge is mentioned above. It’s a fine plant for Zone 3 also.
  • Black-eye Susan attracts butterflies. Birds get enthusiastic about the seeds. All varieties are reasonably drought-tolerant. They're especially suited to naturalizing, wildflower meadows, cutting gardens, wildlife gardens, native plant collections, heritage and cottage gardens. But they're wonderful in any perennial garden or border.
  • Blue Pacific Juniper is an excellent ground cover solution for medium to large coastal gardens. It thrives in dry, sandy soils, is salt tolerant, and is very effective for erosion control. It's deer resistant, too!
  • Coneflower is a tough and ever-popular addition to any perennial garden. Echinacea is loved around the world for its beautiful, showy flowers and reputed herbal remedies. It’s an ideal native plant for the dry area around the rain garden. If only all our plants could be so useful.
  • Coreopsis is a bright-flowered plant with blossoms shaped like large asters. It does well in dry areas, and is well-suited to wildlfower gardens. Coreopsis is native to the U.S., and, thankfully, its ornamental value is widely appreciated.
  • Pennsylvania Sedge is mentioned above. It is a good choice for Zone 3, also.

These are not exhaustive lists of plants suitable plants for rain gardens. But, with these plants to choose from, you can certainly create a lovely, low-maintenance, and sustainable rain garden.

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