People & Plants Don’t Like Soggy Feet!

Normally, if I don’t pull on my muck boots this time of year before going out to the garden, I regret it! Just like us most plants don’t like “wet feet!” This is a good time of year to evaluate where you’d like to plant something because you’ll be able to tell if you have any standing water. Choosing plants that are well adapted to those areas would be the first course of action.

If you think you have poor drainage, try a test hole before planting. Dig a hole (roughly one foot deep) and fill it with water. If the water drains in a days’ time or within about 8 hours, you’re probably fine for most plants. If you have standing water you have poor drainage and this means you’ll need to break up or build your soil and add in some amendments like compost.

Don’t distress though, there are still many plants that grow in wet areas from small to large.

A handful of Camassia Quamash (Camas) scattered throughout the landscape will give sparks of interest around the base of trees early in the year. They also multiple quickly, so you’ll have plenty to share. Hemerocallis (Daylily) could also be a possibility. They grow in an assortment of colors and are a favorite for large starry blossoms. Colors range from orange, red, yellow, pinks, white to burgundy. Many flowers have a central color and then as the petals flair outward they change color, creating an attractive starburst. These plants are fairly resilient but it’s a good idea to choose an area where the landscape will dry out to make sure the bulbs don’t rot.

For a larger more prominent perennial try a Canna Lily. ‘Tropicana’ Canna Lily has spectacular color with wide and tall leaves, and very large flowers. It could be a good idea to give these plants ample space or keep an eye on them, nonetheless they are easy to divide. Canna Lilies definitely make a statement and are great in wet areas.

If you are looking for outstanding color Cornus stolonifera (Red Twig Dogwood native variety) shrub is a great choice. There’s a reason the color red is in the name, leaves turn red in the fall and the stems change to a brilliant red in winter. Remember pruning improves the health of the plant, but also the winter appearance on this shrub – the new growth turns brighter colors. These grow well in full sun to partial shade. Small birds love these bushes to hide from predators.

As always, when planning your garden remember the right plant for the right place! In order to have a successful garden one must plan accordingly. You’ll have less maintenance and healthier plants if you take into consideration your habitat. The winter is a great time to layout garden plans and become inspired.

Written by Karen Smith, Lane Forest Products Plant Specialist