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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Saturday - April 30, 2011

From: Fredonia, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Water Gardens
Title: Plants for NY wetland yard
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

We have standing water in our yard for the entire spring and sometimes summer if it's a rainy one. We dug a ditch and found that our yard has a natural spring, which explains a lot. I need to know what plants I can put in my garden that will LOVE the water. What do you suggest?

ANSWER:

Sure, New York has a selection of native plants that love a wet soil.  Your yard is likely not the only place with a natural spring bubbling up!

For selecting plants, I use the “Recommended Species” webpage, then click on New York and in this case, narrowed my selection down to those that flourish in “Moist-saturated” soils.  This search revealed 22 species of native plants that fit your request.  There were full-fledged trees, ferns and several attractive flowering plants.

Depending on your choice of color and blooming times for flowers, ones that should work well  in that planting include Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal flower)Lobelia siphilitica (Great blue lobelia) and Rosa palustris (Swamp rose).   The name is a bit indicative, isn’t it!

                   
Lobelia cardinalis
                       Lobelia siphilitica            Rosa palustris

If you are looking for shrubs,  Rhododendron maximum (Great laurel) and Amelanchier canadensis (Canadian serviceberry) are in this selection.  Another plant with a name suggesting its habit is Pteridium aquilinum (Western bracken fern).

                          
Rhododendron maximum
          Amelanchier canadensis          Pteridium aquilinum

   Hopefully this selection method and a little bit of planning for your yard foliage will give you a good wetland garden!

 

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