Plants for Damp or Wet Areas

Prepared by Karen Russ, HGIC Horticulture Specialist, Clemson University. (New 11/04.)

HGIC 1718

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Plants marked with an * are more tolerant of very wet or periodically flooded conditions. When selecting plants using this list, remember that a number of factors determine the suitability of a plant for a particular location. In addition to adaptability to moisture, also consider light requirements, soil type, hardiness and heat tolerance, and other factors.

Trees (Botanical Name - Common Name)

Tall Deciduous Trees
(50 feet or more in height at maturity)

  • *Acer rubrum - Red Maple
  • *Carya illinoinensis - Pecan
  • Catalpa species - Catalpa
  • *Fraxinus pennsylvanica - Green Ash
  • *Liquidambar styraciflua - Sweet Gum
  • Metasequoia glyptostroboides - Dawn Redwood
  • *Platanus occidentalis - Sycamore
  • *Quercus bicolor - Swamp White Oak
  • *Quercus nigra - Water Oak
  • Quercus palustris - Pin Oak
  • *Quercus phellos - Willow Oak
  • *Salix species - Willows
  • *Taxodium ascendens - Pond Cypress
  • *Taxodium distichum - Bald Cypress

Medium Deciduous Trees
(30 to 50 feet in height at maturity)

  • Asimina triloba - Pawpaw
  • *Betula nigra - River Birch
  • *Carpinus caroliniana - Ironwood
  • *Diospyros virginiana - Persimmon
  • Gleditsia triacanthos - Honey Locust
  • Magnolia macrophylla - Bigleaf Magnolia
  • *Nyssa aquatica - Water Tupelo
  • *Nyssa sylvatica - Black Gum
  • *Quercus laurifolia - Laurel Oak

Small Deciduous Trees
(under 30 feet in height at maturity)

  • Amelanchier arborea - Juneberry
  • Chionanthus virginicus - Fringetree
  • Cornus alternifolia - Pagoda Dogwood
  • Halesia carolina - Carolina Silverbell
  • Hamamelis virginiana - Witch Hazel
  • Magnolia tripetala - Umbrella Magnolia
  • Ostrya virginiana - Hop Hornbeam
  • Styrax americanus - American Snowbell

Evergreen Trees

  • *Chamaecyparis thyoides -White Cedar
  • *Gordonia lasianthus - Loblolly Bay
  • Ilex cassine - Dahoon
  • Ilex opaca - American Holly
  • Magnolia grandiflora - Southern Magnolia
  • *Magnolia virginiana - Sweet Bay
  • *Pinus elliotti - Slash Pine
  • *Pinus taeda - Loblolly Pine
  • Sabal palmetto - Cabbage Palm

Shrubs (Botanical Name - Common Name)

Evergreen Shrubs

  • Agarista populifolia - Florida Leucothoe
  • Cyrilla racemiflora - Leatherwood
  • Fatsia japonica - Japanese Fatsia
  • *Ilex glabra - Inkberry
  • Ilex verticillata - Winterberry
  • Ilex vomitoria - Yaupon Holly
  • Illicium floridanum - Florida Anise
  • Leucothoe axillaris - Coastal Leucothoe
  • Myrica cerifera - Wax Myrtle
  • Osmanthus americanus - Devilwood
  • Sabal minor - Dwarf Palmetto

Deciduous Shrubs

  • Aesculus parviflora - Bottlebrush Buckeye
  • Aronia arbutifolia - Red Chokeberry
  • Baccharis halimifolis - Groundsel Tree
  • Callicarpa americana - American Beautyberry
  • Calycanthus floridus - Sweetshrub
  • *Cephalanthus occidentalis - Buttonbush
  • Chimonanthus praecox - Wintersweet
  • *Clethra alnifolia - Summersweet
  • *Cornus sericea - Redtwig Dogwood
  • Forsythia species - Forsythia
  • Fothergilla species - Fothergilla
  • *Ilex decidua - Possumhaw
  • *Itea virginica - Virginia Sweetspire
  • *Lindera species - Spicebush
  • Rhododendron atlanticum - Coast Azalea
  • Rhododendron viscosum - Swamp Azalea
  • Rhodotypos scandens - Jetbead
  • Rosa carolina - Carolina Rose
  • Rosa palustris - Swamp Rose
  • Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis - American Elderberry
  • Spiraea x vanhouttei - Bridal Wreath Spiraea
  • Thuja occidentalis - American Arborvitae
  • Vaccinium arboreum - Farkleberry
  • Viburnum opulus - Cranberry Viburnum
  • Xanthorhiza simplicissima - Yellowroot
  • Zenobia pulverulenta - Dusty Zenobia

Groundcovers & Vines (Botanical Name - Common Name)

  • Ajuga species - Carpet Bugle
  • Aspidistra elatior - Cast Iron Plant
  • Bignonia capreolata - Cross Vine
  • Campsis radicans - Trumpet Creeper
  • Convallaria majalis - Lily of the Valley
  • Decumaria barbara - Wild Climbing Hydrangea
  • Gelsemium sempervirens - Carolina Jessamine
  • Hydrangea anomola petiolaris - Climbing Hydrangea
  • Liriope spicata - Liriope
  • Lonicera sempervirens - Trumpet Honeysuckle
  • Smilax smallii - Jackson Vine
  • Wisteria frutescens - American Wisteria

Ferns (Botanical Name - Common Name)

  • Athyrium filix-femina - Lady Fern
  • Athyrium nipponicum - Painted Fern
  • Cyrtomium falcatum - Holly Fern
  • Dryopteris erythrosora - Autumn Fern
  • Dryopteris filix-mas - Male Fern
  • Matteuccia pennsylvanica - Ostrich Fern
  • Onoclea sensibilis - Sensitive Fern
  • Osmunda cinnamonea - Cinnamon Fern
  • *Osmunda regalis - Royal Fern
  • Thelypteris palustris - Marsh Fern

Ornamental Grasses (Botanical Name - Common Name)

  • *Arundo donax - Giant Reed
  • *Carex species - Sedges
  • Chasmanthium latifolium - Northern Sea Oats
  • Schizachyrium scoparium - Little Bluestem
  • Sorghastrum nutans - Indian Grass
  • Spartina pectinata - Cordgrass

Perennials & Bulbs (Botanical Name - Common Name)

  • *Acorus calamus - Sweet Flag
  • *Acorus gramineus - Dwarf Sweet Flag
  • *Alocasia macrorrhiza - Giant Alocasia
  • Arisaema triphyllum - Jack-in-the-Pulpit
  • *Asclepias incarnata - Swamp Milkweed
  • Aspidistra elatior - Cast Iron Plant
  • Aster novae-angliae - New England Aster
  • Astilbe x arendsii - Astilbe
  • *Canna species - Canna
  • Chelone species - Turtlehead
  • Cimicifuga species - Bugbane
  • *Colocasia esculenta - Elephants Ear
  • Convallaria majalis - Lily Of The Valley
  • *Crinum americanum - Swamp Lily
  • Crinum species - Crinum
  • Eupatorium purpureum - Joe-Pye Weed
  • *Filipendula species - Meadow Sweet
  • Galium odoratum - Sweet Woodruff
  • Hedychium species - Ginger Lily
  • *Helianthus angustifolius - Swamp Sunflower
  • Hemerocallis hybrids and species - Daylily
  • *Hibiscus coccineus - Scarlet Swamp Hibiscus
  • Hibiscus species - Rose Mallow
  • Houttuynia cordata - Houttuynia
  • *Hymenocallis - Spider Lily
  • *Iris ensata - Japanese Iris
  • *Iris hybrids - Louisiana Iris
  • *Iris laevigata - Rabbitear Iris
  • *Iris pseudacorus - Yellow Flag
  • Iris sibirica - Siberian Iris
  • *Iris virginica - Southern Blue Flag
  • *Leucojum aestivum - Summer Snowflake
  • Ligularia species - Ligularia
  • *Lobelia cardinalis - Cardinal Flower
  • *Lobelia siphilitica - Blue Cardinal Flower
  • *Lysimachia clethroides - Gooseneck Loosestrife
  • *Lysimachia punctata - Yellow Loosestrife
  • Malvaviscus arboreus - Turks Cap
  • Mentha species - Mints
  • Mertensia virginica - Virginia Bluebell
  • Monarda species - Bee Balm
  • Myosotis scorpioides - Forget-Me-Not
  • Physostegia virginiana - Obedient Plant
  • *Rhexia virginica - Meadow Beauty
  • Smilacina racemosa - False Solomon’s Seal
  • Tiarella cordifolia - Foam Flower
  • Tradescantia virginiana - Spiderwort
  • Tricyrtis formosana - Toad Lily
  • Vernonia noveboracensis - Ironweed
  • *Xanthosoma atrovirens - Taro
  • *Zantedeschia aethopica - Calla Lily
  • Zephyranthes atamasca - Atamasco Lily
  • Zephyranthes candida - Rain Lily

Annuals (Botanical Name - Common Name)

  • Asperula orientalis - Blue Woodruff
  • Impatiens varieties - Impatiens
  • *Mimulus alatus - Monkey Flower
  • Solenostemon cultivars - Coleus
  • Viola cultivars - Pansy

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This information is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement of brand names or registered trademarks by the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service is implied, nor is any discrimination intended by the exclusion of products or manufacturers not named. All recommendations are for South Carolina conditions and may not apply to other areas. Use pesticides only according to the directions on the label. All recommendations for pesticide use are for South Carolina only and were legal at the time of publication, but the status of registration and use patterns are subject to change by action of state and federal regulatory agencies. Follow all directions, precautions and restrictions that are listed.