Growing A Flowering Rain Garden: Selecting Flowers For Rain Gardens

Water Droplets On Purple Flowers
rain garden flower
(Image credit: DiavaP)

A rain garden is a useful, environmentally friendly way to control water and storm runoff in your yard or garden. Plant one in a depression or naturally low area to absorb more water, filter it, and even protect your home from flooding. Designing a rain garden with flowers makes it both useful and pretty.

What is a Flowering Rain Garden?

A flowering rain garden is simply a rain garden that you design with several flowering species so that you get attractive blooms throughout the growing season. More generally a rain garden is a strategically designed bed or area that traps, filters, and controls storm and runoff water.

A rain garden should be made up of plants that can absorb a lot of water and should be situated where runoff and rain tend to collect, the lower spots in your yard. The benefits of a rain garden include protecting your home from flooding, filtering pollutants out of runoff, conserving rainwater, and providing an ecosystem for wildlife.

With flowers, you can attract even more wildlife and have a rain garden that is attractive.

Choosing Flowers for Rain Gardens

While it may seem as if aquatic or marsh plants are the best for rain gardens, this isn’t necessarily true. You need plants that thrive in a variety of conditions, as the garden will range from soaked and flooded to bone dry throughout the season. The best plants are native. They have the best ability to absorb rainwater in your ecosystem and to thrive in local conditions.

Choose flowering perennials that are native to your area. If you aren’t sure which plants are native to your area, check with your local extension office for some suggestions. Some rain garden flowering plants to consider, depending on your local ecosystem, include:

  • Blue flag iris: This pretty perennial flower is native to marshy areas and wet meadows, so put blue flag iris in the lowest part of your rain garden where the most water will collect.
  • Joe Pye Weed: Don’t let the name fool you. Joe pye weed, an attractive perennial, will provide delicate, pretty pink flowers.
  • Bluestar: For the southern and central U.S. bluestar is a great rain garden choice that produces small, star-shaped blooms.
  • Swamp milkweed: Put in swamp milkweed, native to eastern states, to attract monarch butterflies.
  • Blue false indigo: This perennial has gorgeous blue flowers and tolerates drought well. Put blue false indigo in the higher areas of the rain garden.
  • Shrubs: Native shrubs that can soak up a lot of water in the depression of a rain garden and that also flower include silky dogwood, elderberry, and chokecherry.
Mary Ellen Ellis

Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.