Best plants for moist con­di­tions

Central Otago Mirror - - FEATURES -

Do you have a patch in your gar­den that’s con­stantly moist? You could dig it up and in­stall drainage, or you could sim­ply plant to the con­di­tions. Mois­ture-lov­ing plants abound. A boggy patch can ac­tu­ally be trans­formed into a bloom­ing oa­sis.

‘‘Mead­owsweet’’, Filipen­dula ul­maria, which has fra­grant white sum­mer blooms, does best in moist soils, grow­ing nat­u­rally in damp meadows and bogs, or near streams and rivers through­out Europe and Asia. It will thrive here if you plant it in moist, com­post-en­riched soil.

There’s a pink-flow­ered va­ri­ety as well – Filipen­dula pal­mata ‘‘Rubra’’ – which grows 1.2-1.5m high. For a shorter ver­sion, also with pink flow­ers, try Filipen­dula pal­mata ‘‘Nana’’, which reaches only 40cm high.

Filipen­du­las are hardy peren­ni­als, dy­ing back in win­ter and re-emerg­ing in spring. In the past the scented flow­ers, which smell like a mix of honey and al­monds, were used for strew­ing on floors to per­fume rooms.

Iris lae­vi­gata, also known as Ja­panese iris, is a rhi­zoma­tous peren­nial with rich laven­der-blue flow­ers on 60-70cm high stems. It’s a true aquatic plant, grow­ing in moist to wet soil, and thriv­ing in shal­low wa­ter or at the mar­gins of ponds. It does best in a hu­mus-rich acid soil, flow­er­ing in mid­sum­mer and dy­ing down in win­ter. Like most aquat­ics, it should be grown in full sun.

There is a var­ie­gated form too, whose sword-like leaves are striped with creamy-white.

Ligu­laria den­tata has large, showy rounded leaves. It grows best in rich, hu­musy, moist to wet soils in part shade. It can be grown in sun but some shel­ter from mid­day sun is best in sun­baked ar­eas, and mois­ture must be con­stant. Plants die down over win­ter.

Rodger­sias are star plants in the boggy gar­den. These herba­ceous peren­ni­als have large crinkly leaves and the plumy flow­ers reach 1.2m high. The plumes are sim­i­lar in ap­pear­ance to astilbes, ei­ther white, cream, pink or red­dy­or­ange, and ap­pear from early to mid­sum­mer. They grow well sun or part shade.

The car­di­nal flower ( Lo­belia car­di­nalis) is a lovely cot­tage gar­den peren­nial with bright red blooms on 60 to 120cm high stems. The flow­ers open from the bot­tom up, and ap­pear for sev­eral weeks in sum­mer and au­tumn. The flower stems are like flam­ing red wands in the gar­den – a def­i­nite stand-out. These plants like a moist to wet soil in sun or part shade. Prim­ula japon­ica, aka ‘‘Ja­panese prim­ula’’, is a spring-flow­er­ing herba­ceous peren­nial that likes rich, moist or wet soils. Flow­ers are held on tall, erect stems in whorls, which cat­e­gorises them as can­de­labra prim­u­las. Flow­ers may be pink, ma­genta, red or white and will grow in sun (pro­vid­ing soils re­main con­stantly moist) or part shade.

There are many other mois­turelov­ing plants. Try the cheery yel­low marsh marigold ( Caltha palus­tris), the hardy hi­bis­cus, aka ‘‘swamp rose mal­low’’ ( Hi­bis­cus moscheutos), the kaf­fir lily ( Schizostylis coc­cinea), or obe­di­ent plant ( Physoste­gia vir­gini­ana).

In bloom: Ja­panese iris.

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