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Mr. Smarty Plants - Winter plant for area with poor drainage.

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Friday - December 07, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Lists
Title: Winter plant for area with poor drainage.
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have a 2 ft by 15 ft bed between the concrete patio and the pool that gets run off from the porch roof. I can't gutter the roof, so the bed can get very wet and stay that way for some time. It faces due West, but Canna will tolerate it in the summer. It gets direct unfiltered afternoon sun in the summer, less direct, but still unfiltered sun in the winter. What can I plant here for fall/winter that will grow 12 inches or taller? The space is barren now. Pansies, petunias, and snapdragons all drown. I'd take annual, perennial, evergreen, just about anything that would survive and is relatively upright. There is not much room for it to overlap onto the deck area. Thank you so much for your assistance!

ANSWER:

First of all, I think you should consider some way to relieve your drainage situation. Have you considererd installing a French drain in the area? It is a difficult situation for most plants to receive a deluge of water that leaves them standing in a pond for a while and then dries up completely. There are a few plants that will tolerate this situation, but not too many. Another problem is to find something attractive for the wintertime. Unfortunately, there aren't any native plants that bloom in the wintertime that will tolerate your water conditions. Here are a few native possibilities, however, that will work both summer and winter:

Sabal minor (dwarf palmetto) is evergreen and will tolerate growing in wet areas very well and, after it is well-established, it can handle drought, also. It can get tall, but doesn't do so very rapidly. You should be able to find these at local nurseries now to install.

Andropogon glomeratus (bushy bluestem) is an attractive clump grass that blooms in the fall and prefers wet conditions. Its copper color fall foliage persists into the spring when the new green growth begins to sprout. It does not tolerate drought so would require watering.

Equisetum hyemale var. affine (scouringrush horsetail) is an attractive evergreen plant, but also would require watering when the area is dry.

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) is a large shrub or small tree growing to 12 feet or more that tolerates both poor drainage and drought. There is also a dwarf wax myrtle (Morella cyrifera var. pumila) [synonyms = Myrica cyrifera var. pumila and Myrica pusilla] that only grows 3 to 6 feet.

 

From the Image Gallery


Dwarf palmetto
Sabal minor

Bushy bluestem
Andropogon glomeratus

Scouringrush horsetail
Equisetum hyemale var. affine

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

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