We all have come across it - that one spot in the yard that is always wet, muddy and swampy, regardless of how we try to amend it. Most often, we just give up planting anything there and write it off as "the swamp." But what if there were plants adapted to growing there that would thrive and still look beautiful?The good news: there are! Many of these plants are ready to take on the wet areas of your yard, and can survive both in nearly flooded conditions for short term, moderately wet seasons or drier times.
River Birch - Betula nigra
As the name suggests, river birch is adapted to those wet areas of land. Standing approximately 50 feet tall at full maturity, the pale white bark and bright green foliage provide seasonal interest all year. Use it if you need a tree in an area that is fairly swampy after a weather event, and watch as it thrives.
Loblolly pine - Pinus taeda
It's surprising to find an evergreen tree that can withstand wet soil. But loblolly pine will thrive even in a swampy area. With a mature height of over 70 feet, loblolly pine will provide you with that year-round evergreen characteristic in an area that otherwise wouldn't have something like that.
Buttonbush - Cephalanthus occidentalis
Best used in wet locations, buttonbush is a shrub that will delight. With a four foot spread in all directions, buttonbush has flowers and fruits that give it it's namesake - they are round and look identical to buttons! Pollinators adore the flowers, and birds enjoy the fruits, so why not plant something that serves multiple purposes in your wet area?
Royal Fern - Osmunda regalis
Often found growing along river banks (and even in water, in places), royal fern will thrive in wet environments. A clump former, royal fern's large arching leaves will provide habitat cover while growing in your wet spots in your landscape. Unique flowering structures provide some whimsy and fun to your landscape. Consider planting it en masse for best results.
Sedges - Carex spp.
At first glance, sedges look like grasses. But on closer inspection, the triangular leaves of sedges are easy to identify and separate from grasses. Use in your wet areas, as sedges don't mind having their feet wet, and enjoy the grass-like appearance. Try a cultivar like 'Ice Dance' for a bold, variegated statement.
Swamp milkweed - Asclepias incarnata
As the name suggests, swamp milkweed is a perfect flowering perennial for those wet areas of your landscape. The cultivar 'Cinderella' has pink flowers in the summer that smell like vanilla cinnamon and other spices. Used as a host plant for monarch butterflies and as a food source for other pollinators, using swamp milkweed will be sure to provide your wet location with plenty of activity!
Wet spots can be a challenge to landscape around, as many plants can't tolerate the conditions. But with these plants, there are options to maximize your landscape and provide some beauty in those challenge spots.