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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 - March 20, 2010

From: Clarkston, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Water Gardens
Title: Wetland Plants for Michigan
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I have an area on my wooded property with a wetland marsh area that often puddles with water along the perimeter in the spring. It is very shaded and wet but I wanted to camouflage the perimeter of the wetland(that is unsightly w/ tree stumps in it) with wild flowers-fern plants or whatever will live in this environment? Lots of water drainage and lots of shade. Can you please advise what will live here, thank you!

ANSWER:

I am sorry that you think your wetland is unsightly ... I am sure that the wildlife that frequent the area think it is a delightful place to live!

There are plenty of plants native to your area that will thrive there, and adding them to create a sense of a garden and screen some of the view should change the area so gardener and garden residents will all be happy!

Ultimately, your plant selection will be determined by what is available at the garden center but you can begin the selection process by visiting our Native Plant database. Seaching the Recommended Species List for Michigan and narrowing the search by choosing shade/part shade and wet conditions results in a list of 28 plants that should be easy to source.  A Combination Search yields many more which you may or may not be able to find.

Because you are so close to Ontario, you will also find the Evergreen.ca database quite helpful as you can search it for plants according to the habitat.  As you can well imagine your Eco-region, The Temperate Deciduous Forest, straddles the US/Canada border.  You can also learn more about your ecology by visiting the NatureServe website and searching their database as well.  I cannot link you directly to that page, but once you find the database, if you choose "Ecological Communities and Systems" and then "Search by Location", you will find a wealth of information. You can cross reference these sources with our database.

Here are some plants we are familiar with that we think would be suitable. The lilnks will take you to the plant information page for detailed information and more images.

Perennials/Grasses

Actaea pachypoda (white baneberry)

Athyrium filix-femina (common ladyfern)

Calamagrostis canadensis (bluejoint)

Gentiana andrewsii (closed bottle gentian)

Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)

Vernonia fasciculata (prairie ironweed)

Shrubs

Cephalanthus occidentalis (common buttonbush)

Ilex verticillata (common winterberry)

Physocarpus opulifolius (common ninebark)

Spiraea alba (white meadowsweet)

Viburnum opulus var. americanum (American cranberrybush)

Trees

Amelanchier arborea var. arborea (common serviceberry)  Images

Larix laricina (tamarack)  Images

Quercus macrocarpa (bur oak)

Quercus palustris (pin oak)


Actaea pachypoda

Athyrium filix-femina

Calamagrostis canadensis

Gentiana andrewsii

Osmunda cinnamomea

Vernonia fasciculata

Cephalanthus occidentalis

Ilex verticillata

Ilex verticillata

Physocarpus opulifolius

Spiraea alba

Viburnum opulus var. americanum

Quercus macrocarpa

Quercus palustris

 

 

 

 

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