Useful Plants for Wet Soils

“Getting ready to move to an 8-acre farm in Kansas. The spot we picked for the garden is about 2 acres. It’s all sunny. My question is that about 20% is kinda shady and is always wet. Is there anything that can be planted there? Want something that can grow in the damp soil and kinda shady. It gets sun but not like the rest of where we want to plant our garden. Think there might be a natural spring running underground. That’s the only spot on the land that has sun. Mature Pecan trees planted throughout the property. Don’t want to get rid of the trees. Need help with suggestions on what to plant in the wet area if anything. Thank you for your advice in advance.” Question from Carrie in Belton, Missouri

Answer: I will give you two lists of planting options for your spring-fed growing area: (1) edibles and (2) flowers adapted to wet growing areas.

Edibles for Wet Soils

A non-invasive tender edible that grows well in the wet ground and partial sun is taro (Colocasia esculenta); start it at the beginning of the warm season and harvest it before frost. Perennial herbs for wet soils include peppermint (Mentha x piperita) and native wild mint (Mentha arvensis); both are fragrant and delicious. Fruits that grow well in moist to wet soils include Canadian elderberries (Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis) and common serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea). There are also several Asian vegetables that thrive in wet soils, like water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica) and butterbur (Petasites japonicus), but these are very invasive in the US, so I don’t recommend growing them. 

Flowers for Wet Soils

Cardinal flower is one of many perennials for wet soils. (Image by Jessie Keith)

Beautiful flowers that thrive in wet soils and partial sun include cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica), swamp sunflower (Helianthus salicifolius), and crimson-eyed rose-mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos). These are just a few to consider for your 2-acre spot. Click here to read more about Perennial Flowers for Wet Places.

Good luck cultivating your new farm!

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist


Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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