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Monday - February 08, 2010

From: laurel, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Plants/grasses for a bioswale in Maryland
Answered by: Anne Bossart


Mr. Smarty Plants, I'm looking for a good seed mixture, wetland plant/grass mix, to use in Bio-Swales in central Maryland. Can you help me?


Yes we can! Planting a bioswale/rain garden is a very important component of sustainable gardening as it an effective way to reduce storm water runoff; increasing inflitration and reducing pollution.  It is more attractive than a drainage ditch filled with rip-rap and can provide a little piece of much needed wildlife habitat in an urban setting.

Plants that will thrive in a bioswale have to be tough in order to withstand the exreme wet and dry conditions of a bioswale, but there are plenty of native plants that fit the bill.

The website Rainscapes will be a valuable resource for you in this project as it provides information for your part of the world, being published by the Maryland Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection.  You will find instructions as well as plant lists on their website.

Ultimately, your plant choices will be limited by what plants and seeds are available in the nurseries in your area.  You will find a link to some native plant nurseries associated with the Wildflower Center on our Suppliers page and there is also a link on the Rainscapes website.

You can begin the selection process by visiting our Native Plant Information Network.  Do a Combination search by selecting Maryland and then narrowing your choices to wet conditions.  That way you can make a "wish list" of grasses, perennials and even shrubs, depending on the size and location of your swale. One of our Associates, Wildflower Farm offers a pre-planned Rain Garden plant list you will find helpful.  They are located in Ontario but the plants they recommend are native to your area as well.

Here are some plants we recommend:


Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)


Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed)

Chelone glabra (white turtlehead)

Eupatoriadelphus fistulosus (trumpetweed)

Lobelia siphilitica (great blue lobelia)

Monarda didyma (scarlet beebalm)

Andropogon gerardii

Chasmanthium latifolium

Elymus canadensis

Panicum virgatum

Asclepias incarnata

Chelone glabra

Eupatoriadelphus fistulosus

Lobelia siphilitica

Monarda didyma





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