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10 Favorite Native Perennials for Wet Areas

This is the second post in a series summarizing a talk by Behnke’s Christopher Lewis on great plants for wet areas of the yard.  If you would like to read the first, 9 Favorite Native Shrubs for Wet Areas, click here.

Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
Its vibrant red flowers in late summer are a favorite of hummingbirds.  Likes full sun to part shade.

Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium)
An ideal plant for the back of the garden, it grows 4ft-7ft tall.  It likes full sun or light shade and features large, dusty rose or white flowers that butterflies love, especially swallowtails.

Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
The name says it all; it loves wet conditions and has milky sap.  It’s a food source for monarch caterpillars.  Interesting tidbit: it’s poisonous, so when monarch caterpillars eat it, they too become poisonous, keeping birds and other predators from eating them.

Mistflower (Eupatorium coelestinum)
Good groundcover for shade (or sun, if it gets enough water), feathery periwinkle flowers cover it from late summer through fall.  Be careful though, it spreads quickly with underground rhizomes and can take over an area.

New York Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis)
A member of the Aster family, its purple flowers will attract many butterflies.  It’s easy to grow, tolerating a wide range of soils and light, though it would prefer rich, moist soil in full sun.

Goat’s Beard (Aruncus)
A good plant for the shade with delicate, white, plume flowers in June.  It’s deer resistant.

Blue Flag Iris (Iris veriscolor)
Blue iris flowers with yellow and/or white accents on the petals.

Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea)
This is a great groundcover for shade.  It spreads, loves deep shade, has bright yellow, aster-like blooms and can even be evergreen in a mild winter.

Turtlehead (Chelone)
It has pink or white flowers in late summer that are supposedly shaped like turtle heads (judge for yourself).   Deer resistant.

Royal Fern

Sensitive Fern

Lady Fern

Ferns: Lady Fern, Royal Fern and Sensitive Fern
Give them partial shade and moist soil and they’ll be happy.  They’re all deer resistant.  Sensitive Fern spreads, Royal Fern will form clumps and Lady Fern will stay put.

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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