Iris siberica ‘Flight of Butterflies’ blooms in late spring and adds a vibrant elegance to moist locations. Kylee Baumle/Paulding County Progress
Iris siberica ‘Flight of Butterflies’ blooms in late spring and adds a vibrant elegance to moist locations. Kylee Baumle/Paulding County Progress
During the middle of summer, I often write about drought tolerant plants. The weather patterns in our area are such that we get regular rains in spring and then it’s as if someone turned the faucet off and we go through a hot and dry spell. We become weary of dragging hoses out to keep things hydrated so we don’t lose them.

We’re in the wet period right now but this year it’s anything but typical. If only we could store all this rain for use later in the summer, when it’s sure to be too dry. Or is it? We could have never guessed that spring would be so wet that corn planting by the farmers would be delayed this much or even canceled altogether.

I’ve not been able to plant in my garden until this week either, and even then it was probably wetter than it’s advisable to do so. When you dig a hole and water begins to fill in it, or the mud sticks to the shovel like glue, it can be problematic.

Seeds have gone in the ground much later than usual, too. Where the top layer has dried a bit, I got some in, but some of the areas didn’t dry out enough to even do that until very recently.

Besides the problems with planting and sowing seeds, waterlogged soil can present problems for existing plantings, too. So in those areas where you know you’ll have issues with this, even in a normal year, it’s best to plant things that can handle the wetness or even thrive in it. Rain garden, anyone?

Native plantings will no doubt handle the ups and downs of a specific area better, since they’ve adapted to the weather patterns and soils over a long period of time, but here are some things that are less likely to pout in the presence of moisture.

Camassia scilloides – I’ll never forget walking in the woods on the west side of Paulding County one spring and encountering a large swath of what’s commonly called wild hyacinths. This lavender blue beauty is a spring ephemeral and unlike most bulbs which would rot in the presence of excess moisture, this one does just fine. The foliage is deer and rabbit resistant, too.

Bee balm (Monarda spp.) – Have you noticed how tall the bee balm is already this spring? That’s because this perennial likes consistently moist soil to do well, although it will grow in drier locations, too. I find that our native Monarda fistulosa excels in this regard, but the hybrid varieties prefer things on the wet side, too. It’s a great pollinator nectar plant, attracting a number of insects, including hummingbird moths.

Siberian iris – There are several types of irises, but Iris siberica is particularly lovely and graceful, and it requires a moist growing location. I have five different ones in my garden presently, and will add more as I find them. Whereas I have problems with iris borers in my German bearded irises, the annoying pests seem to leave my Siberian irises alone.

Hardy hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos) – Sometimes called rose mallow, this shrubby perennial is a fast grower that dies to the ground in fall and is late to emerge in the spring. It produces plate-sized blooms later in the summer and comes in both vibrant and pastel colors, including bi-colors.

Ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) – In wet areas, these ferns can reach heights of six feet or more and when they do, they’re quite majestic. Mine aren’t in a particularly wet spot and they don’t get much taller than a couple of feet, but they’re still graceful and lush. I enjoy watching the fiddleheads emerge in the spring. Those are edible, but I’ve not tried them.

Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) – Best planted in clumps of three or more, this native perennial is a hummingbird magnet. In fact, anytime I’ve ever seen it growing, I’ve also spotted a hummingbird nearby. This species has scarlet flowers, and Lobelia siphilitica has deep blue ones. It too, grows best in moist soil.

Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) – Besides having quirky ivory balls for flowers, this native is a host plant to several different moths. Butterflies are drawn to its nectar, so it makes a nice alternative to butterfly bushes. As a bonus, buttonbush turns a nice orangey-red in the fall.

These plants shouldn’t be too difficult to find, either locally or online, and there are many more that do well in our formerly (and presently) swampy soil.

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