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Plants for Damp Soil Areas - Shrubs and Perennials

Plants and shrubs that will grow in Damp conditions. (Those areas that are damp underfoot, but not so wet as to sink in!) Many plants will grow in either permanently damp - or permanently dry conditions.  For instance the Day Lilies - Hemerocallis are normally associated with 'normal' or dry soil situations.

 They are often used in mixed or perennial borders, but the best display I have seen were growing in very damp conditions - at the edge of a large natural lake. Roots in water for most of the time. Similarly, the Lobelia cardinalis types are happy wet or dry!

However in this list, we specifically choose plants that are happy in very moist or damp conditions, but not permanently waterlogged. Even so, some of the listed plants will also grow with roots permanently in waterlogged conditions.

The damp area in your garden need no longer be a problem - or even maybe a neglected area. There are many damp area plants There are enough flowering plants and shrubs in this list for all manner of damp garden areas.

Shrubs for Damp Areas and Conditions.

  • Acers - Japanese maples do very well in light shade with damp soil area.
  • Amelanchier canadensis and also A laevis and A.lamarkii. Both are well suited to very damp but not completely waterlogged conditions
  • Buddleia Buddleja - The Butterfly bush. Quite happy in damp - and shaded - conditions.
  • Camellia x williamsii types do very well in damp soil with shade. One of the best damp area plants and also loves shade  (E)
  • Clematis varieties do well - especially if they can climb up to the sun. But roots in damp shade are ideal.
  • Clethra - C. alnifolia; C.delavayii: C. arborea.
  • Cornus alba varieties - also Cornus stolonifera types. The best I have seen have been in very waterlogged winter conditions.
  • Euonymus elata and also the E fortunei types, although normally associated with hot dry conditions, are also good damp area plants. (E)
  • Fothergilla - all types. This uncommon shrubs seems to thrive anywhere.
  • Hibiscus syriacus Bluebird and the like. Happy when damp, but also prefers to have sun.
  • Hippophae - Sea Buckthorn. Damp conditions but not waterlogged.
  • Hydrangea macrophylla types and also Hydrangeas paniculata. Will tolerate waterlogged conditions for a while - as long as the soil is capable of drying out.
  • Itea ilicifolia. Very good against a damp shaded wall.
  • Kerria japonica will grow almost anywhere but not permanently flooded.
  • Leycestria formosa - Good for damp area and slightly shaded (or sunny) area.
  • Pernettya - Lime hater - so happy in peaty conditions - peat bog even. (E)
  • Physocarpus Dart's Gold in particular seems happy with wet feet.
  • Rhododendrons and Azaleas - Most thrive in damp conditions if well drained. (E)
  • Sambucus - The Elders. Damp conditions with shade - as well as dry sunny!
  • Spiraea varieties - Snowmound in particular and also S. douglasii. But most others also.
  • Symphoricarpus. Damp area plants - all varieties,  but not permanently waterlogged.
  • Viburnum lantana - Damp areas and Shade or dry and sun!
  • Viburnum opulus - As above.
  • Viburnum rhytidophyllum. Large shrub that is happy in damp areas. (E)
  • Weigela. Seems happy in either dry or damp areas.

Perennial Plants for Damp Soil Conditions

As with the shrubs mentioned above for damp conditions, most of these perennials will have been seen in 'normal' garden border situations. Basically because most gardens have 'normal' soil conditions. Nevertheless, the ones listed below. are quite happy in damp soil conditions. Many of them originate from damp woodlands and stream banks. A few are happy waterlogged, but for the most part simply damp that dries out from time to time.

  • Aconitum - Monk's Hood
  • Acorus calamus Variegata - Often mistaken for an Iris with similar linear strap leaves - but golden striped (SE)
  • Astilbe - does really well in damp conditions
  • Anemone japonica - one of the most colourful plants for damp soil - bat can be invasive
  • Bergenia (E)
  • Brunnera - similar to Myosotis. Blue flowers show up well in this situation.
  • Caltha palustris - the Marsh Marigold or Marsh Buttercup. The common name gives the clue that it is a good plant for damp soils - It is also a good plant for boggy areas.
  • Canna Lilies are superb in damp - though not fully winter hardy in UK. Often see them growing alongside water's edge in Thailand.
  • Coreopsis
  • Convallaria - Lily of the vallety. Very happy in damp shade.
  • Crocosmia - Montbretia as was. Will not be happy if permanently waterlogged, but ok in damp.
  • Digitalis - Foxgloves. Normally seen in dry woodlands, but will grow well in the damp.
  • Echinacea - The Coneflower. Damp or dry
  • Eranthis hyemalis. Good at water's edge as long as nor permanently flooded.
  • Erythronium types - The dog's tooth violets.
  • Eryngium - the sea Holly
  • Euphatorium. Will grow well in boggy conditions. Very happy plants in boggy areas in fact -
  • Euphorbia palustris types - Spurge
  • Filipendula ulmaria and others
  • Geranium cultivars G. Ann Folkard, and most others.
  • Gaultheria. Damp and shady is fine for these evergreens
  • Hemerocallis - Day lily. Mentioned above as a superb moisture lover.
  • Heuchera. Damp and shaded as well as dry and sunny.
  • Hosta - good showy foliage plant for damp areas
  • Iris sibirica - ensata - Good at the water's edge or as a suitable plant for boggy areas.
  • Kniphofia - The Red Hot Poker
  • Ligularia. Happy at water's edge so damp conditions no problem.
  • Lobelia cardinalis types. Have photographed these, year after year in boggy conditions.
  • Lysimachia nummularia. Not to be waterlogged, but enjpoys a damp spot.
  • Lythrum salicara. Happy when quite damp - but loves the sun also.
  • Polygonum - or Persicaria as now is.
  • Pulmonaria - Lungwort - quite happy in damp woodland.
  • Ranunculus. Moisture lover
  • Rogersia best in damp moist soil.
  • Salvia - Hardy types. Happy in moist soil - as well as dry areas.
  • Thalictrum
  • Tiarella cordifolia - The foam flower
  • Tricyrtus formosana - The Toad Lily
  • Zantedeschia. These are happy in water - so damp soil no problem. Enjoys full sun, but ok with light shade. 

Trees suitable for Damp Areas.

  • Alnus spp - The Alders. The river bank tree - so damp soil no problem
  • Abies. Moist or damp soil - but not waterlogged.
  • Betula pendula. The Silver Birch. Damp soil is fine, but not flooded.
  • Crataegus - laevigata in particular.
  • Liquidambar - happy in damp or wet conditions.
  • Metasequoia glyptostroboides
  • Paulownia. Will do well in damp soil especially if pollarded back each year.
  • Populus - The Poplars. Damp rather than permanently wet. White Poplar seemingly better.
  • Taxodium - The Swam Cypress - Happy with roots in water, so damp soil no problem
  • Thuya plicata. Not waterlogged but quite happy damp.
  • Prunus spinosa - the Blackthorn or Sloe Tree.
  • Salix - The willow family. Will grow with roots in water.
  • Sorbus aucuparia types - The Mountain Ash. Damp but well drained soil is ok, but not permanently wet.

Hopefully the lists above will give you a little enthusiasm as to what you can plant in your damp patch!

Other Areas of specific interest | Plants for Shaded Areas | Plants for Wildlife | Plants with Pink Flowers | Plants with Yellow Flowers | Plants for Dry Banks |


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