Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
3 ratings

Friday - September 11, 2009

From: Pottstown, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Water Gardens
Title: Water-loving native plants for Pottstown, PA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live about 40 miles west of Philadelphia. I am looking for a water absorbing evergreen tree/bush/plant that I could plant in the rear of my yard. We get a small stream every good rain and the back half of the yard stays water saturated. The yard in that area gets full sun. The soil has a lot of shale throughout.

ANSWER:

We have a How-To-Article Water Gardening that will give you some ideas on how to treat this area, but that is not exactly what you want. What you want is a wetland or a rain garden, with plants that can both withstand dry weather as well as having their feet in standing water for a short period. The rain garden is not only a way to deal with streams of rain water and with saturated soil, but also helps to filter out pollutants and filter the water before it goes rushing off to lakes and your water supply. Here is an article from Rain gardens of West Michigan with some basic information to get you started thinking in that direction. 

The best reference source we found was from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Rain Gardens, a How-To Manual for Homeowners. It is fairly lengthy, and probably involves more than you actually need or want to do for your problem area, but it has good explanations of why a rain garden is important to water and soil conservation and quality of our water supply, while giving you an attractive, useful area in your yard.

And, finally, this website Native Rain Gardens makes our point about native plants. In the same vein, please read our How-To Article A Guide to Native Plant Gardening. Our next step is going to be selecting grasses and herbaceous blooming plants that do well in sun, tolerate wet feet, are perennial and are native not only to Pennsylvania but to the area around Montgomery County in southeast Pennsylvania. Follow the links to the webpage on each individual plant to learn more about the soil the plant prefers, expected size, color and time of bloom, etc. These are all attractive garden plants that will function well in a rain garden, but if you would like more choice, to our Native Plant Database, and do a Combination Search, selecting the characteristics and habits that you feel apply. 

Herbaceous blooming plants for a rain garden in Pottstown PA

Acorus calamus (calamus)

Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed)

Equisetum arvense (field horsetail)

Eupatorium perfoliatum (common boneset)

Iris versicolor (harlequin blueflag)

Lobelia cardinalis (cardinalflower)

Lobelia siphilitica (great blue lobelia)

Scutellaria integrifolia (helmet flower)

Solidago rugosa (wrinkleleaf goldenrod)

Grasses and grass-like plants for a rain garden in Pottstown PA

Andropogon glomeratus (bushy bluestem)

Carex stipata (owlfruit sedge)

Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani (softstem bulrush)


Acorus calamus

Asclepias incarnata

Equisetum arvense

Eupatorium perfoliatum

Iris versicolor

Lobelia cardinalis

Lobelia siphilitica

Scutellaria integrifolia

Solidago rugosa

Andropogon glomeratus

Carex stipata

Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani

 

 

 

More Water Gardens Questions

Plants for edge of pond
June 23, 2008 - We live in Atlanta, Texas. My husband built a beautiful pond that is almost an acre in size. We are fortunate in that one side of the pond is covered by trees and a natural ground cover that keeps w...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a pond bank in Gladwin MI
September 13, 2009 - Our acre-size pond bank is sloped and high maintenance--needs mowed. We have lots of deer. We would like to plant a low-lying ground cover to eliminate mowing the bank--any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Plants for area around a fountain in full sun near Dallas
May 19, 2010 - I'm seeking advice on what I can plant around the base of a fountain, in full sun, that can tolerate the fountain water splash/spray. I'm seeking something that can be maintained to a maximum h...
view the full question and answer

Plants for swan food
July 03, 2012 - Dear Mr Smarty Pants, I have a farm in VA with a large pond or lake fenced in. I am rescuing a pair of swan and want to grow plants around the fence and pond that they can eat. Could you suggest an...
view the full question and answer

Plants for under a fountain splash line in California
January 29, 2009 - What plants should we plant under our fountain's splash line in our Mediterranean style courtyard? The area will get wet from the fountain's splashing and have "full" sun. We are on a rock ridge...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.