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These 11 Plants Are Nature’s Sponges And The Best Choice For Your Rain Garden

These 11 Plants Are Nature’s Sponges And The Best Choice For Your Rain Garden

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Heavy rains leave quite a mess in our yards, and if you have a spot where rain constantly collects, it’s likely a no-go zone for plants. 

There was a barren spot in my garden for years until I found a super simple yet effective solution: a rain garden!

If the term doesn’t ring a bell, let me break it down for you. It’s a special type of garden that involves growing plants that can soak up excess rainwater. This means you won’t be dealing with water pools and your yard will look fantastic. 

As an added bonus, your outdoor space will be a magnet for pollinators and I’m sure you already know the benefits of these little creatures. 

Even though installing a rain garden isn’t rocket science, you need to know which plants won’t mind wet feet. Get ready to hit the jackpot because the list below features the best plants for rain gardens!

First, A Word For Those Who Are Just Starting

You might be a bit confused with the concept of a rain garden, so I believe that’s where I should start. I’ve mentioned that this type of garden focuses on growing plants that can absorb rainwater.

But why not just let water run into drains? Well, water is polluted (we’re the ones to blame), and soil microbes will clean it, so there will no longer be any residue of fertilizers or pesticides once it reaches the drains.

Your rain garden should be placed in the lowest areas of your yard where rainwater pours off. For instance, somewhere on a lawn, between a roof and a street is perfect!

If you need help determining the ideal site for your rain garden, you can always contact the local extension office. I’m sure they’ll be happy to help because it’s in their best interest to create more environmentally friendly spaces!

And now it’s time to introduce the absolute must-haves in rain gardens!

1. Elephant’s Ear Is Perfect For A Splashy Garden

You’ll find Elephant’s Ear plants in many gardens and it’s primarily because of their stunning appearance. But this plant has way more to offer than just good looks!

They love water, so you don’t have to worry if their roots stay wet for a while. 

Make sure they receive a lot of full sun so that they can produce more of their massive, captivating leaves!

These plants are perennials in USDA zones 8 through 11, so you don’t need to plant them every year. 

Those who live in cooler climates can grow an Elephant’s Ear as an annual. 

2. Muhly Grass Will Be Happy With Soggy Feet

Nothing looks prettier in the late season than a garden with plumes of Muhly grass. This plant has a long lifespan and, more importantly, it absorbs rainwater perfectly. 

It won’t exceed 4 feet, making it a perfect candidate for mass planting.

Muhly grass grows well in both full sun and partial shade. My favorite thing about this species is that pests stay away from it. Honestly, that’s all I needed to hear before I added it to my garden!

3. Add A Dramatic Touch With Cardinal Flowers

And here’s one of the most beloved native plants, the spectacular cardinal flower. I have it all around my garden, and one of the reasons is that it literally withstands all soil types

Its light red blossoms appear at the end of the summer and hummingbirds and butterflies can’t resist them.

The more moisture your cardinal flower receives, the more blooms it produces! This is why it makes one of the perfect plants for a rain garden!

4. Winterberry For Year-Round Delight

Winterberry has something to offer for each season; green foliage, white blossoms, and red berries will elevate your garden design!

Birds, bees, and butterflies adore berries, which means your winter garden won’t lack pollinators and other beneficial creatures. 

Although it tolerates different soil types, it will definitely grow best if the pH is on the acidic side

But make sure you have both male and female winterberries so that they can cross-pollinate and produce berries. I didn’t have a clue about this but a lovely lady in the nursery helped me. 

5. Sweeten Your Rain Garden With Virginia Sweetspire

If you want your rain garden to smell fantastic, the Virginia sweetspire fragrant evergreen shrub is perfect for you! In nature this plant grows along stream banks, so it isn’t surprising that it thrives in rain gardens.

It produces wonderful white blossoms in the summer and won’t exceed 8 feet. Bees adore Virginia sweetspire blooms, so your garden won’t lack pollinators!

Full sun is ideal for this shrub but it can also tolerate partial shade.

6. Attract Pollinators With Buttonbush

Many plants on this list attract pollinators but nothing can compare with the Buttonbush. Its pincushion-like blooms grow in clusters and many pollinators and birds enjoy munching on their sweet nectar. 

You need more space for the Buttonbush because it reaches about 12 feet tall and up to 8 feet wide

This deciduous shrub performs well in both full sun and partial shade and it tolerates all soil types. How remarkable!

7. Get Even More Buzzing Visitors With Coneflower 

If you’re aiming for a pollinator rain garden but don’t have a lot of space, coneflower is the perfect choice. 

It produces lovely colorful blossoms that emerge on 4 feet tall stalks. Hummingbirds and butterflies love them and you don’t need to put a lot of effort into maintenance since coneflowers flourish in all conditions

8. Water Isn’t A Problem For Inkberry

Another plant that doesn’t mind wet feet is the intriguing inkberry. It’s an evergreen shrub and comes from the family of hollies. 

You can expect your inkberry to reach anywhere between 5 and 10 feet. Beautiful small white blooms give rise to black berries that are a great source of food for wildlife

Similarly to winterberry, you need female and male inkberry plants to get the berries. 

9. Add A Pop Of Color With Stoke’s Aster 

Stoke’s asters always remind me of old gardens, so if you need a vintage touch they’ll do the job. 

They produce white, pink, or bluish-purple flowers and will cheer up your rain garden.

You can get your Stoke’s asters to bloom all season long by regular deadheading!

10. Summersweet Thrives In Rain Gardens

The name says it all! Summersweet is a shrub that generates fascinating sweetly-scented white blossoms

If you don’t have a lot of space, this is a plant for you since it won’t exceed 3 feet

I have it in several locations in my garden with different sun exposure and they’re all thriving, so you don’t need to worry about giving it enough light.

11. Mist Flower Loves Every Drop Of Water!

Are you an impatient gardener who needs a fast-growing plant for a rain garden? Plant a mist flower! This plant makes a perfect groundcover and will grow like crazy with minimum effort!

I call it the “plant and forget plant” because no matter which conditions you ensure, it will reward you with its splendid light blue blooms.

Oh, did I mention that hummingbirds and butterflies are obsessed with it? So yeah, the mist flower is a plant that has it all. 

Our journey ends here! No matter if you already have a rain garden or you’re just starting out, any of these 11 beauties will help it thrive!