Wet, waterlogged soil can cause no end of headaches for many gardeners. Most trees and shrubs do not grow well in such locations, and landscaping projects to improve poorly-drained soil can be a laborious undertaking, not to mention an expensive one. An easier solution is to choose plants that thrive in such locations, and you have a number of shrubs from which to choose.
Most plants need well-drained soil; waterlogged, poorly drained soils can suffocate the roots of many shrubs, causing stunted growth and the eventual death of the plant. Waterlogged soils can be caused by a number of factors; low spots tend to be wetter than high spots, and soil near ponds and swamps can obviously have drainage problems. Clay soils also tend to be poorly-drained.
Deciduous shrubs are those that shed their leaves in autumn and grow them back the following spring. Deciduous shrubs for waterlogged sites include American beautyberry, forsythia and swamp azalea. Some shrubs, like silky dogwood, possumhaw, buttonbush, summersweet, spicebush and Virginia sweetspire have been known to tolerate extremely wet sites and even temporary flooding.
Evergreens retain green leaves year-round. These include shrubs with needle-like leaves and broad-leafed evergreens, which have waxy leaves resembling those of deciduous trees. Evergreen shrubs for wet soil include leatherwood, Japanese fatsia, wax myrtle, Florida anise and devilwood. Inkberry, yaupon holly and winterberry have been known to withstand flooded conditions.
Not all shrubs are suited to all climates, so consult with a local expert. This will help you to find shrubs that are just right for the conditions in your backyard.
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- Iowa State University: Trees and Shrubs for Wet Soils; Richard Jauron; 1998
- NC State University: Qualifiers for Quagmires: Landscape Plants for Wet Sites; Thomas G. Ranney, et al.; 1998
- Purdue University: Landscape Plants for Wet Areas; Michael N. Dana, et al.
- Clemson University: Plants for Damp or Wet Areas; Karen Russ; 2004