For several years now, ponds and other water features have been popular additions to the garden. These features can help solve water problems in the landscape. Areas that tend to flood can be turned into rain gardens or ponds, or that problematic water can be forced to run off wherever you prefer it to go by way of a dry creek bed. Of course, the essential part of making these water features look natural is the addition of water loving plants. While many of these are tropical, warm climate plants, those of us in cooler climates can still have beautiful, natural looking water features with the proper selection of hardy water plants. Continue reading to learn more about zone 5 water garden plants.
Growing Water Loving Plants in Zone 5
Here in Southern Wisconsin, on the cusp of zone 4b and 5a, I live close to a small botanical garden called Rotary Botanical Gardens. This whole botanical garden is built around a man-made pond with streams, smaller ponds and waterfalls. Every year when I visit Rotary Gardens, I find that I am most drawn to a shady, boggy, lowland area and the deep green horsetails that flank both sides of a rocky path through it.
Over the course of the last 20+ years, I have watched the steady progress and development of this garden, so I know it was all created by the hard work of landscapers, horticulturists and volunteers. Yet, when I walk through this area, it seems that it could only have been created by Mother Nature herself. A properly done water feature, should have this same natural feel.
When selecting plants for water features, it’s important to choose the right plants for the right kind of water feature. Rain gardens and dry creek beds are water features that can be very wet at certain times of the year, like spring, but then be dry at other times of the year. Plants for these types of water features need to be able to tolerate both extremes.
Ponds, on the other hand, have water all year. Plant selections for ponds need to be those that tolerate water all the time. It’s also important to know that some water loving plants in zone 5, like cattails, horsetails, rushes and sedges, can out compete other plants if not kept in check. For this reason, you should always check with your local extension office to make sure it’s ok to grow them in your area, or at least how to maintain them.
Below is a list of hardy water plants for zone 5 that will naturalize over time.
- Horsetail (Equisetum hyemale)
- Variegated Sweet Flag (Acorus calamus ‘Variegatus’)
- Pickerel (Pontederia cordata)
- Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
- Variegated Water Celery (Oenanthe javanica)
- Zebra Rush (Scirpus tabernae-montani ‘Zebrinus’)
- Dwarf Cattail (Typha minima)
- Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)
- Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
- Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
- Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum)
- Turtlehead (Chelone sp.)
- Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)
- Tussock Sedge (Carex stricta)
- Bottle Gentian (Gentiana clausa)
- Spotted Cranesbill (Geranium maculatum)
- Blue Flag Iris (Iris versicolor)
- Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)
- Cut leaf Coneflower (Rudbeckia lacinata)
- Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata)
- Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
- Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)