Rain Garden Plants

Okay so I’ve been lagging behind getting my blogs out this past month.  Getting back into the swing of things this week I wanted to talk about choosing plants for rain gardens.  When we think of rain gardens we think of plants that will be submerged all the time like aquatic/pond plants.  However, this is not true.  Plants that are adapted for rain gardens must be able to survive periods of wetness and dryness.  Keeping this in mind this opens up a wide pallet of plants to choose from.

Yarrow (Achileea milefolium) is a perennial most of us are familiar with.  We think of yarrow as a drought tolerant plant and would never consider it as a rain garden option.  Yarrow are surprising versatile and would be a good selection for the sides or the top portion of the rain garden.  They bloom starting in June and can go until September.  They are a taller plant and should be placed in the back of the design setting so they do not hide some of the smaller selections.  Yarrow is also an excellent pollinator friendly plant.

Another plant that we don’t think of when it comes to rain gardens is bee-balm (Monarda sp.).  These plants can take wet to dry soils and would do well placed at the bottom of the rain garden.  They come in a wide array of colors from purples to pink.  If you have grown bee-balm then you know that it is prone to powdery mildew.  Some newer introductions are not available that are resistant to this foliar disease and might be worth checking out.  And like yarrow bee-balm is visited by a wide array of pollinator insects.

Nebraska Extension has an excellent publication Nebraska Bioretention and Rain Garden Plant Guide (EC 1261) that you could pick up online.  You can download it as a free PDF file or order a hard copy for only $15.00.


Scott Evans
Scott Evans is a horticulture assistant with Nebraska Extension in Douglas-Sarpy Counties. A certified arborist through International Society of Arboirculture and Nebraska Arborist Association. Scott is also Tree Risk Assessment Qualified through ISA. Scott co-leads the Master Gardener program in Douglas & Sarpy counties. Along with volunteer management he provides his expertise with disease and insect identification, lawn and landscape weed management, plant health, and I.P.M. practices. He also enjoys growing many houseplants ranging from African violets to cacti and succulents. Scott has two Bachelors of Science, one in Biology (emphasis in Botany, Ecology and Environmental Science) and second in Environmental Geology from Northwest Missouri State University. He earned his Master of Agriculture from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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