AP NEWS

Growing Concerns: Plant these to diversify your rain garden

May 13, 2019

A rain garden is a basin in the yard that captures rainwater from impervious surfaces and allows the water to infiltrate into the soil instead of polluting local streams and ponds.

It is best to use a diverse selection of plants, trees, shrubs, native grasses and herbaceous perennials. These plants should thrive in moist soil with periods of large quantities of water and possibly dry periods during a drought. In large gardens, water-loving trees can be used. Shrubs have extensive root systems that will soak up water and prevent erosion. Native grasses and sedges help choke out weeds, so don’t skimp on this very important group of plants. Plant selection is critical but fun. Consider using the following herbaceous perennials.

Aster ‘Wood’s Purple’ provides fall color. This plant species is drought, salt and wet soil tolerant as well as deer and rabbit resistant. Wow! I think this plant checked almost every box.

New England Aster is a native prairie plant with pink, purple and blue daisy-like flowers. The late summer bloomer can reach 6 feet tall. It may need staking. I recommend pruning and pinching a couple times earlier in the growing season to keep it from flopping.

Agastache foeniculum, or anise hyssop, blooms June through September. The crushed foliage smell like licorice. This native plant is used in prairie, rain and herb gardens.

Eupatorium ‘Chocolate’ is a unique plant with chocolate-purple foliage turning green as it matures. The beautiful white flowers bloom in September. The contrast between the foliage and flowers is simply amazing.

Helenium ‘Rotgold’ has stunning red flowers with a contrasting yellow edge. Providing proliferous blooms from August to September. This plant is tolerant of wet soil and deer.

Solidago ‘Fireworks’ produces yellow blooms in the fall. There are numerous Solidago species that could be used in a rain garden but the blooms on this cultivar explode like fireworks. This exploding nativar is deer-tolerant.

Tradescantia ‘Blue and Gold’ has bright yellow grass-like foliage that creates a spectacular backdrop for the violet-blue flowers, hence the reason for the cultivar name. This cultivar can be utilized in the rain garden as well as a rock garden which has gravelly well-drained soils.

These varieties and more are available from the Rochester Community and Technical College Spring Plant Sale. For a great deal on perennials, annuals, herbs, and vegetable transplants visit us at the greenhouse, 1926 Collegeview Road, during the following hours.

• 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday and Wednesday.

• 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday.