List of Rain Garden Plants

Updated November 21, 2016

A rain garden may be an unusual name, but it actually serves a useful purpose. Rain gardens collect runoff water from your rooftop, driveway or walkway. Once the water runs into the rain garden, the plants help the water soak into the ground instead of running into the rivers, streams or ponds protecting overall water quality. There are plenty of plants suitable for creating your own rain garden.

Blue Flag Iris

The blue flag Iris is a flower that grows best in very moist soil, even growing in shallow water. In the wild, it grows near marshes, streams, lakes and ponds, making this an ideal choice for a rain-garden atmosphere. Leaves are bright green and arrow-shaped. Blue flag iris has thick stems which produce large, showy flowers in shades of bluish-purple. These flowers often have around six petals and may grow in clusters of 2 to 3 per stem. Flowers bloom in May and June. While blue flag iris prefers a full-sun environment, it tolerates partial shade.


Elderberry bushes prefer moist yet well-drained soil. In fact, elderberry bushes run the risk of severe damage if their roots dry out before planting. This plant thrives with proper fertilisation. Pruning elderberry is also necessary to prevent damage to the plant. Aside from being useful as rain-garden plants, elderberry bushes also produce clusters of edible fruit that can be harvested in August and September.


Columbine is a shrub-type plant producing deep green foliage along with flowers in shades of yellow, pink, white, red and lavender. Flowers bloom each year in the mid-spring months. Foliage changes colour from green to maroon in the fall. Columbine is tolerant of most soil types; however, it prefers moist, well-drained soil. Part-shade lighting conditions are best for columbine, though with extra watering it also tolerates full sun. Pruning is required to maintain a healthy plant.

Red Maple Trees

The red maple tree requires moist, well-drained soil to grow best. These trees prefer cool, moist environments free of extreme heat or drought. A partial-shade environment is best. Naturally moist soil, such as that of a rain garden, is perfect for the red maple. Fertilisation is also good, as it allows for an optimum growth opportunity. While the red maple is not prone to disease, proper watering, fertilisation and soil conditions are key to preventing potential problems.

Tufted Hair Grass

This plant produces green shoots of grass along with long stems topped with flower tufts in shades of gold, red, pink or white. Tufted hair grass prefers cool weather conditions and partial shade, but is tolerant of full-sun environments if proper moisture is provided. The moist, well-drained soil of a rain garden is the ideal growing environment for a tufted hair grass plant. Flower tufts appear on the plant in late spring to early summer months.

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