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Wednesday - March 23, 2011

From: Washington, DC
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Rain Gardens
Title: Rain garden plants for DC
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

Please recommend deep-rooted, native, perennial plants, 1-3 feet high, for an area that is moist and gets approximately 3 hours of day of afternoon sun. During rain storms this garden is in a low area and can experience pooling water. Thank you!

ANSWER:

The situation you are describing is very similar to a rain garden or bioswale which is a created area much like you already have.  It is used to facilitate the infiltration of stormwater runoff, decreasing erosion and pollution.

You will find some very useful information about rain gardens here on the Landscape for Life website.  There are links to other sites with more information and plant suggestions.  Although none of them are specifically for the DC area, there are many native plants with broad ranges, so there will be plenty of choices for you.  You will find the plant lists posted on the Brooklyn Botanic Garden website particularly helpful.

You can also create a list of plants to choose from by visiting our Native Plant Database and doing a Combination Search.  Select: District of Columbia, herbaceous plant, part shade and wet conditions.  A list of 60 plants is generated that are native to your area and will survive in your conditions.  (If you feel that the conditions are not wet all the time, select moist as well and your choices will expand significantly). The plant names on the list are linked to detailed information pages.

Here are some suggestions from that list:

Aruncus dioicus (Bride's feathers)

Chelone glabra (White turtlehead)

Eupatorium perfoliatum (Common boneset)

Gaura biennis (Biennial beeblossom)

Iris versicolor (Harlequin blueflag)

Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal flower)

There are a number of ferns that will fit the bill as well:

Athyrium filix-femina (Common ladyfern)

Osmunda cinnamomea (Cinnamon fern)

Osmunda regalis (Royal fern)

Woodwardia areolata (Netted chainfern)

 

 

 

 

 

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