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What will grow in a wet woods?

10 years ago

Posted by Donna - 6: My husband and I have been trying to
reintroduce natives to an old forest. Lots of wildflowers
have reappeared as we have cleared scrub. We have three
types of Trillium, Dwarf Larkspur, Wild Phlox, Celandine
Poppies, Cimicifuga, Early and Zigzag Spiderworts, Wild
Hyacinths, 9 types of ferns, etc. The site has a gradual
slope leading down to a spring. It's the boggy area
immediately surrounding the spring that's giving me fits. I
can't use water plants because this area dries up Aug-Sept.
The rest of the year, I don't like the look of a
giant mud puddle with nothing in it. Whatever goes in must
take standing water for much of the late winter and early
spring. It's high dense shade during the summer. HELP!

phil hosick - 4b: Have you considered modifying your spring?
We are putting in a 'natural' bog garden this spring. We
hope to purchase an old pool liner, dig a hole and put the
liner down. Then we will put a good layer of black muck over
the liner and fill with water throughout the year. Plants I
have observed growing: blue flag(wild iris), boneset, marsh
marigold, bulrushes, cardinal flower.

Kirk Johnson Zone9 Oregon: Phil, if you can find a source
for Bentonite clay, it should work better than a liner to
keep moisture in a seasonal bog. A liner is likely to get
pushed up by moisture underneath it, especially if there are
any springs. Bentonite is sold by the bag in a powdered
form, the local cranberry growers use it to line cranberry
bogs. Petasites japonicus is listed as hardy in Zone 3.

Alex T. - 5: Yellow Skunk Cabbage (Lysichiton) or
Jack-in-the-Pulpits could work for you. Globe Flower
(Trollius) has been known to thrive in standing water, as
they like their feet to be wet.

Marcia Taylor: Japanese Iris can also stand wet feet. You
could try some cat-tails.

Susan Tice: A few suggestions for tall perennials that don't
mind wet feet. Most of these will tolerate or prefer at
least part shade.

Aconitum spp. (Monkshood) 3-4 feet;
Eupatorium maculatum (Joe Pye Weed) 4-6 feet;
Delphiniums 3-6 feet These like lots of moisture and
are very hardy but don't like to be soggy;
Digitalis purpurea (Foxgloves) 4-6 feet;
Filipendula palmata 3-4+ feet;
Helenium autumnale 3-5 feet;
Lobelia spp. L.cardinalis and L.siphilitica 2-4 feet;
Lysimachia clethroides (Gooseneck Loosestrife) 2-4
Pyhsostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant) 3-4 feet;

Barb Mich Z5: Don't overlook boneset, flowering rush, monkey
flower, wild for-get-me-not (not the dry land one usually
sold), wild geranium, marsh marigold, wild ginger, blue and
yellow flags. You could try the native Clematis virginiana,
Old Man's Beard, let it cover the weeds and choke them out,
then keep it pruned back. Some beautiful Viburnums are
high-bush cranberry (big clusters of white flowers followed
by red berries), arrowwood with blue berries and handsome
leaves. Red elderberry is wonderful in wet shade.

Susan Z7a/NC: I planted Lobelia cardinalis and Primula
japonica 'Redfield Strain'. The Lobelia would have been nice
if the deer machines had not come through. The japanese
primroses did not bloom, but formed very wide basal

Bernice Grey, N. Alberta: Lily of the valley, pulmonaria,
and astilbe. Be sure to add bonemeal to your soil where you
plant your perennials, and give them all a top-dressing of
it every fall before the snow comes. If snow cover tends to
be light before the temperatures drop to minus 10 degrees,
plan to mulch for winter protection.

Joyce N.E. Pa.: Some of the shrubs are: Winterberry / Ilex
verticillata, Sweet Pepperbush /Clethra alnifolia, Swamp
Azalia / Rhododendron viscosum, Sheep Laurel /Kalmia
angustifolia, Spicebush / Lindera benzoin, Buttonbush /
Cephalanthus occidentalis. Some of the wildflowers that
tolerate wet conditions here are: Day Lily /H. fulva, Pink
Lady's slipper, Joe-pye weed, Marsh merigold, Swamp candles,
Blue and Yellow flag Iris, Swamp buttercup, True
forget-me-not, Monkey flower, Monarda, Blue-eyed grass.

Bruce - NH 5: Let me put in a plug for the following: swamp
milkweed, turtlehead, swamp rose-mallow, shinleaf, and ferns
of all kinds. Some shrubs would include leatherleaf, gray
dogwood, alternate-leaved dogwoog, red-osier dogwood,
chokeberry, dwarf birch, serviceberry, hobblebush,
and sweet pepperbush. All these are not only attractive, but
offer excellent food and shelter for wildlife, something
that far too many gardeners never give a thought to.

Michelle Safirstein IL/5: You may a some wonderful native
plants. Do your homework. Get a native plant guide and carry
it always.

Carole Musengo OR/z5: Cimicifuga (bugbane), Aconitum
(monkshood), Gaultheria (wintergreen)...


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