Gardening in Wet Regions

I’ve done several blogs about how to maintain a garden oasis even when you are short on water. Drought, no doubt, is prevalent across much of the country at any given time. Not all of us have that problem though. Sometimes, it’s the exact opposite. How do you create and maintain a garden when you receive a lot of rainfall throughout the year?

Irrigation? I don’t think so!

While many areas receive rainfall during fall and spring, there are many regions that have rainfall throughout the entire year. This can make choosing your plants, and deciding how to maintain a garden, a bit different.

What Plants can I Grow in a Wet Region?

If you’re in a wet region, the overall tip I suggest is don’t try to grow plants that aren’t going to thrive. Don’t plant a cactus and then be sad when it’s dead 3 weeks later, just as people in hot, dry areas wouldn’t try to grow ferns.

Instead, look for plants that thrive in marshy lands, wet lands, or rainforests. Also, Grow Native PLants. There’s a reason that plants thrive in their native areas; they’ve had many many years to evolve to be the perfect plant for that region. My favorite marshy-like plant is Fritillaria Meleagris, or the Checkered Lily. They are a great addition to a mid-spring garden in their maroon and pink checkered outfits.

Some other plants that don’t mind wet feet include Cattails and Pussywillows, Bee balm, various Ferns, (research yours to make sure the temperature fits your climate) and multiple shrubs. The USDA has put together a fantastic article called Backyard Wetland which can help point you in the right direction.

If you’re looking for gorgeous trees, consider the not-so-humble Dogwood. They prefer wet soils because much of their root system is quite shallow. Hot, dry suns are not for the Dogwood, so try not to plant it directly where it will have too much heat at a time. In most regions, the dogwood wants to be under a tree canopy, so consider planting it beneath larger well-established trees.

Things to Look Out for

Wet regions are likelier to have blight and fungus inhabit soils. Common plants that notoriously suffer from blights quicker than others are the nightshades. Tomatoes, Potatoes, and Eggplants leaves are susceptible to early and late blight and can wreak havoc on a garden. To lessen this chance, always rotate crops even in a small garden. Blight remains in soil for about 4 years, so if your tomatoes suffer from blight one year, mark your calendar. Then, make sure they don’t return to that area of the garden for another 4 years.

Many bulbs simply will rot in constantly soggy soil. Some of the bulbs that put up a great fight are daffodils and Checkered Lilies. In my soggy, clay soil, daffodils are still the first sign of yellowy spring each year. They continue to bloom even as they sit in sad puddles of mud.

Seedlings are more susceptible to root rot, so if there’s a plant you’d really like to try growing from seed, consider starting it indoors and acclimating it to being outside before transplanting it. An established plant will better deal with rain than a seedling.

How you feed your plants is also something to take into consideration. High rainfall areas often have low nitrogen because it is easily washed out of the soil, so either fertilize often, get soil tested, or aim for plants that aren’t “heavy feeders.” (Fruiting plants are often heavy feeders- Corn, tomatoes, etc)


Finally, here are a few quick tips I’ve learned while growing in a predominantly wet region!

  • Never till a wet ground. This compacts the soil.
  • If you live in an area that has dryer summers, consider pulling up things like peppers and letting them go dormant during the wet months, then transplanting outside when the soil is warmed and drying out a bit.
  • Spray your fruit trees with copper sulfate in October or November (their dormant season) to avoid fungus affecting their next year’s growth.
  • A slug’s best friend is rainy weather. This is also true for snails. Remove anything that a slug may call home to reduce the population. Most slug baits are ineffective once they become wet, so you’ll need to be aggressive when trying to control them.

Growing and maintaining a garden in soggy areas can be nearly as difficult as growing in hot, drought-prone regions. However, if you choose the right plants, you can have a lush oasis of rain-friendly plants.

Need information on growing in an arid climate? You can reference my blog here.

Gardening in Wet Regions

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