Who’ll Stop the Rain? 20 Great Plants for Soggy Soil

May 26, 2009 | By | Comments (14)

Water hyacinth

Many of you are asking: “Will the rain ever stop?” So I consulted Jim Cantore, Gonzo Hurricane Chaser and Prophet of Doom for the Weather Channel. The answer is, “No. It’s going to rain every day until the last vestige of Earth disappears under the water on December 21, 2012. Get your end-of-days plan ready.”

The scene above was the Grump’s croquet court just two weeks ago. Oh, how I loved quaffing sherry while hobnobbing among the wickets with my high and mighty society friends who wouldn’t be seen with the likes of you! But now it’s just another malarial swamp choked by weeds and patrolled by water moccasins. And I was on the verge of beating the tar out of Prince Charles and Warren Buffett!

Now a lot of people will undoubtedly be depressed to learn that it’s going to rain every single day for the rest of their lives. But I say it all depends on how you look at it. Is the glass half-full or is it filled to overflowing? If it’s the latter, put on a happy face and fill your world with wonderful water-loving plants to brighten your day for the remaining three or so years we all have left. Here are some trees, shrubs, flowers, and bulbs you should plant right now between bolts of lightning.

The Grump’s Favorite Trees for Wet Soil

1. Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) *

2. Sweet bay (Magnolia virginiana)

3. Red or swamp maple (Acer rubrum)

4.  Water tupelo (Nyssa aquatica) *

5. Sycamore (Plantanus occidentalis)

* Tolerates submerged roots

Fave Shrubs for Wet Soil

VA sweetspire Virginia sweetspire — spring bloom

1. Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidetalis) *

2. Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia)

3. Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica)

4. Wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera)

5. Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) *

* Tolerates submerged roots

Beauteous Boggy Bloomers

Cardinal flower Cardinal flower — hummingbird favorite

1. Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) *

2. Crinum lily (Crinum sp).

3. Ginger lily (Hedychium sp.)

4. Ironweed (Vernonia sp).

5. Japanese primrose (Primula japonica)

6. Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium pupureum)

7. Pitcher plant (Sarracenia sp,)

8. Canna (Canna sp.) *

9. Texas star (Hibiscus coccineus) *

10. Yellow flag (Iris pseudacorus) *

* Will tolerate submerged roots

Water Hyacinth Warning!!

Once you know the whole world is going to drown, invasive plants don’t seem that big a deal. Nonetheless, I am honor bound by my sacred oath sworn before the Order of the Pink Flamingo to warn you about those pretty lilac-colored flowers floating on the water in the shot of my former pleasure garden. They are water hyacinths (Eichhornia crassipes), one of the worst water-loving plants you can inflict on nature. They’re OK in an aquarium or birdbath, but releasing them into the wild where they’re cold-hardy (Zone 7 and below) is like setting loose Charlie Sheen in the showgirls’ dressing room. Things get out of control. Water hyacinths multiply incredibly fast and eventually cover large bodies of water. The sweep of them above probably started from a single plant some jerk threw out about 15 minutes ago.




  1. Grumpy Gardener

    Sage advice, Rabbit. I also grow suspicious when I wake up in the morning and find a giant pyramid sitting where I thought my lawn was.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:34 am
  2. chathamcorabbit

    If you go home and someone else is living there.

    May 31, 2009 at 11:10 pm
  3. Rose Marie Wolverto

    Howdo I find out if my address has been changed?

    May 30, 2009 at 9:06 pm
  4. Grumpy Gardener

    They’re well-behaved? This can mean only one thing. The deer will eat them down to the ground and leave the others.

    May 29, 2009 at 11:00 am
  5. Grumpy Gardener

    You are a miracle worker.

    May 29, 2009 at 10:56 am
  6. Cameron (Defining Your Home Garden)

    I’m growing helianthus angustifolius ‘First Light’ PP#13150 and it’s better behaved than the native. I have three in three different situations in my garden and all are nice, round clumps (going on 4 years) that haven’t taken over.

    May 29, 2009 at 8:41 am
  7. chathamcorabbit

    Maybe if I had that mule…

    May 28, 2009 at 9:28 pm
  8. chathamcorabbit

    Fine, you got me. I’m busted- I’m lazy… We do have a creek/crick/branch/muddy hole (depending on source & season) which might support bog-lovers. But we’ve got too much going on up the hill to pay much attention to that area, yet. (However, I did banish some Indian-shot Cannas down there last year, and, get ready for this, they DIED. It takes a truly dedicated gardener to kill Indian-shot Canna…)

    May 28, 2009 at 9:24 pm
  9. Grumpy Gardener

    You seriously trying to tell me that you can’t find anywhere for them to grow in 30 acres? Sounds like you’re just not trying.

    May 28, 2009 at 12:33 pm
  10. chathamcorabbit

    I crave Joe-Pye and Ironweed (thanks for that ID)- but, as of yet, have nowhere to plant them where they’d be happy. But I’ve got 30 acres, which may be 10 short for a mule, but it’s damn plenty to have a dream…

    May 27, 2009 at 10:51 pm
  11. Grumpy Gardener

    Careful with that Helianthus, Cameron. In wet soil, it spreads like crazy. Those deer may have been doing you a favor.
    About the only plant I know that chases away mosquitoes is fireweed. ‘Course, you have to set it on fire first.

    May 27, 2009 at 2:41 pm
  12. Drew

    What about the wonderful mosquitos that come with boggy areas ( at least in Mobile)….any plants that chase them away.

    May 27, 2009 at 2:14 pm
  13. Cameron (Defining Your Home Garden)

    Now your talking!
    Our Sweet Bay Magnolia is so sweet and fragrant right now.
    This spring, I dug up a huge clump of helianthus angustifolius out of the deer resistant garden because they ate it. Not knowing what to do with it, I literally sat the big clump down in our shallow manmade stream until I could find a place for it.
    That was several months ago — It’s still there and happy as can be. I gave it a cutting of my calla and butterfly ginger and bog salvia to keep it company. I think I’m starting a peninsula!

    May 27, 2009 at 12:41 pm
  14. Helen at Toronto Gardens

    Hysterical. No, that’s me: hysterical that I can’t plant any of these! I’ve been doomed to dry, sandy soil in shade. But, oh, for a Nyssa to call my own…

    May 26, 2009 at 6:20 pm

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