The Best Flowers for Wet Soil

Turn a wet, poorly drained spot in your yard into a colorful landscape feature with these perennial flowers and ornamental grasses.

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    Add tropical flair to your landscape with canna. This bold plant bears big leaves and spikes of bright red, yellow, orange, or pink flowers. Tall varieties top out at 8 feet, but dwarf selections stay under 2 feet tall.

    Name: Canna selections

    Zones: 8-11

    Test Garden Tip: In cold-winter regions, dig up and store canna rhizomes in a frost-free place over winter and replant them the following spring.

  • Pink turtlehead, Turtlehead, chelone, Chelone lyonii, Chelone obliqua 2 of 23


    Getting its name from the distinct shape of the individual blossoms, turtlehead blooms in late summer. It's an adaptable plant that thrives in sun or part shade and dry or soggy soil. Over time, it spreads to form a dense clump, but it's not usually aggressive.

    Name: Chelone selections

    Zones: 4-9

  • 3 of 23

    Elephant's Ear

    This elephant's ear bears striking glossy black leaves highlighted with silvery white veins. Grow it as an annual in wet soil (or even standing water) or bring it in as a houseplant and enjoy the foliage all winter.

    Name: Alocasia amazonica

    Zones: 8-11

  • 4 of 23

    Joe-Pye Weed

    Joe-Pye weed's rosy blooms are glorious in the late summer border, and so are the butterflies it's sure to attract. This 6-foot-tall plant is perfect for adding drama. Anchor it by growing shorter moisture-loving perennial flowers in front of it.

    Name: Eupatorium purpureum

    Zones: 3-10

  • 5 of 23

    Siberian Iris

    Siberian iris blooms at the end of spring. Its thin, grassy foliage and slender blossoms give it graceful elegance. Although bearded irises require good drainage, Siberian and Japanese irises will grow in shallow standing water or poorly drained soil.

    Name: Iris sibirica selections

    Zones: 3-9

  • 6 of 23

    Fiber-Optic Grass

    One of the most unusual grasses, fiber-optic grass bears thin, gracefully arching leaves, creating the effect of fiber-optic wires splaying from a junction box. This low-growing perennial adds wonderful texture to mixed containers or water garden plantings. Grow it as an annual in Northern gardens -- or bring it indoors as a houseplant.

    Name: Isolepis selections

    Zones: 10-11

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    The yellow spires of 'The Rocket' ligularia bring a blast of color to shady sites. This bold perennial needs constant moisture to keep it from wilting, especially if it gets afternoon sun.

    Name: Ligularia 'The Rocket'

    Zones: 4-9

  • 8 of 23

    Cardinal Flower

    Hummingbirds can't resist cardinal flower's bright red blooms. Available with either green or bronze foliage, this North American native plant is perfectly at home along a stream or water feature.

    Name: Lobelia cardinalis

    Zones: 3-9

  • 9 of 23

    Creeping Jenny

    Cover the ground with creeping Jenny's delightful chartreuse foliage and bright yellow blooms. It clambers beautifully over rocks as long as its roots stay moist, so tuck it into crannies along streams or waterfalls.

    Name: Lyismachia nummularia 'Aurea'

    Zones: 4-9

  • 10 of 23

    Ostrich Fern

    Stately ostrich fern is a tough perennial that loves moist, shady spots. Its light green fronds add delicate texture to the garden as they unfurl -- despite the plant's sturdy, carefree nature. This fern spreads by underground rhizomes, but you can keep it in bounds by digging out unwanted shoots.

    Name: Matteuccia struthiopteris

    Zones: 2-8

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    Forget-me-not forms a delicate-looking cloud of color in early spring, especially if grown at water's edge. This short-lived perennial typically self-seeds in the garden, delightfully popping up here and there.

    Name: Myosotis selections

    Zones: 4-9

  • 12 of 23

    Japanese Primrose

    Japanese primrose is a charming spring-blooming perennial that offers 18-inch-tall clusters of pink, white, magenta or red blooms on long flower stalks. It does best in cool-summer areas.

    Name: Primula japonica

    Zones: 2-8

  • 13 of 23


    'Sweet Kate' spiderwort is one of the most eye-catching perennials in the garden, thanks to its neon yellow-green leaves and cobalt-blue blossoms. This North American native plant is very adaptable, thriving in shade or sun and wet or dry soils.

    Name: Tradescantia selections

    Zones: 4-11

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    Graceful callas come in a dizzying array of colors from pink to white to orange, red, bronze, yellow, or maroon. The long-lasting flowers are excellent for cutting, and they add elegance to any bouquet.

    Name: Zantedeschia selections

    Zones: 7-10

    Test Garden Tip: In cold-winter regions, dig up and store calla lily rhizomes in a frost-free place over winter and replant them the following spring.

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    'Sparkler' palm sedge, shown here, is one of dozens of grasslike plants in the sedge family. Virtually all love moist to wet soils, and most prefer shade or partial shade. They make a great low-growing ornamental groundcover.

    Name: Carex selections

    Zones: 5-9

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    Marsh Marigold

    Just like you'd expect from a plant called marsh marigold, this perennial bears cheery yellow blooms and loves moist or wet soil. Its springtime blooms contrast the shiny dark green leaves.

    Name: Caltha palustris

    Zones: 2-7

  • 17 of 23

    Dwarf Papyrus

    The unique plant form of papyrus makes it a great focal point for the water garden or wet border. It has grassy stems topped by a starburst of leaves. Papyrus is also a good houseplant for a bright spot indoors.

    Name: Cyperus papyrus

    Zones: 9-11

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    Meadowsweet looks like a supersized astilbe with its cotton-candy blooms of fluffy pink borne on 5-foot-tall stems. The plant is also known as queen-of-the-prairie, a fitting name for this Midwest native. It grows best in full sun, but it tolerates some shade.

    Name: Filipendula rubra

    Zones: 3-7

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    One of the all-time favorite plants in the garden, hydrangea loves moisture. In fact, its name comes from the Latin term hydra, which means water. Whether you grow a mophead, lacecap, peegee, or oakleaf type, give your hydrangea plenty of moisture to keep it happy and blooming well.

    Name: Hydrangea selections

    Zones: 4-9

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    Swamp Milkweed

    With a name like swamp milkweed, you know this plant loves wet soil. Happily, it will also grow in drier sites. Like its close cousin, orange butterfly weed, swamp milkweed attracts monarch and other butterflies.

    Name: Asclepias incarnata

    Zones: 3-8

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    Hardy Hibiscus

    Create all-summer drama with hardy hibiscus's dinner-plate size blooms range from pink to red to white. Although hardy hibiscus prefers moist soil, it also can withstand extended drought, making it an easy-care perennial flower for sunny sites.

    Name: Hibiscus moscheutos

    Zones: 5-11

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    Obedient Plant

    Obedient plant gets its name because the blooms remain in place at whichever angle you position them on the stem. This North American native perennial isn't always obedient in the garden, spreading quickly to form a large clump in wet or dry soils.

    Name: Physostegia virginiana

    Zones: 4-8

  • Next Slideshow The Best Perennial Plants for Shade

    The Best Perennial Plants for Shade

    Brighten up sheltered spots in your landscape with these easy-to-grow, colorful shade plants that come back year after year.
    Begin Slideshow »

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