Rain Garden Natives: Kara’s Picks

Picture courtesy of Michler’s Garden Center
Picture courtesy of Michler’s Garden Center

Folks around Central Kentucky often ask me which plants are appropriate for a rain garden. Rain garden soil conditions can vary from wet to dry, making them tough places for many plants to grow. The plants chosen for rain gardens are adapted to these conditions and typically have extensive roots that help pull water into the ground, which can help reduce stormwater runoff.

To help you get started on your rain garden, I’ve picked out a few of my favorite Kentucky natives that really thrive in moist or well-drained soils.

Eupatorium maculatum – Joe Pye Weed

15638101339_214e2973a3_o A Butterfly Magnet, the extravagant Joe Pye Weed is crowned with clusters of bright pink flowers in late summer. Eupatorium maculatum is perfect for planting in damp soil in marshy areas, along streambanks, and on pond edges. Joe Pye Weed (also called Spotted Joe Pye Weed) also thrives in rich garden soil. If you love Joe Pye but have too much shade, try Sweet Joe Pye Weed.


Monarda didyma – Bee Balm

22222 A pollinator favorite, Beebalm’s red bloom makes it especially attractive to hummingbirds. One of only a few red-flowered natives, it holds a special place in the mid-summer color scheme. Native to the Appalachian Mountains, Monarda didyma will grow well in zones 4 – 7. Does best in a rich soil with a good organic matter content to provide moisture during the heat of summer. Also known as Oswego Tea, American Beebalm or Scarlet Beebalm.


Chelome obliqua – Turtle Head

1111 Turtleheads are native wildflowers that adapt beautifully to garden conditions. In this species, plants form an upright, bushy mound of green foliage, bearing upright stems of large bright-pink hooded flowers beginning in late summer. Best in a moist or wet site, this also adapts well to average border conditions. Terrific at the waterside. Excellent for cutting. Showy and long lived. Attractive to butterflies. Plants are easily divided in spring.

If you would like to learn more about rain garden and apply for a $250 grant to build a rain garden at your own home check out our web page or register for a workshop!


Leave a Reply