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Horsetail reeds are descended from the days of
the dinosaur.
Water-logged soil presents problems when landscaping an area around ponds, streams or boggy locations. These areas
lack oxygen in the soil around the root zones of the plants. The most suitable plants for this type of soil are those
adapted to these conditions.
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Perennial Plants
Perennial plants come back from the roots each spring after a period of dormancy. Sweet flag (Acorus calamus) grows
in shallow water or damp soil in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 2 through 10 in full sun exposure. Do
not let sweet flags dry out. This perennial with its sword-shaped leaves forms clumps 24 inches wide with small
blossoms. The variety “Variegatus” produces leaves with snowy white edges. Japanese sweet flags (Acorus gramineus)
grow large circular clumps of leaves. Other cultivars to try are “Licorice,” which as the name suggests is licorice
scented, and “Ogon,” which produces yellow arching leaves.
Reed-like Plants
Growing in swampy areas or at the edges of streams, cape rush (Chondropetalum elephantinum) reaches 3 to 5 feet tall
and 4 to 6 feet wide with narrow clusters of dark brown flowers on top of each shoot. Horsetail reeds (Equisetum
hyemale) grow in USDA zones 3 through 11. This plant produces a jointed hollow stem with bushy whorls appearing
from the joints. In rich, moist conditions, they reach 4 feet tall. Equisetum scirpoides, a miniature version, reaches 6 to
8 inches tall. Zebra rushes (Schoenoplectus lacustris tabernaemontani “Zebrinus”) grow upright grassy clumps 2 to 4
feet tall and wide, with hollow leafless green stems bearing yellow stripes.
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Suitable Plants for Water-Logged Soil
by Karen Carter, Demand Media
Tropical Foliage
Tropical foliage plants produce large, lush leaves in damp soil. Elephant’s ears (Colocasia esculenta) prefer warm,
moist area in filtered shade in USDA plant hardiness zones 7 through 10. The leathery heart-shaped leaves reach 2 1/2
feet long by 3 feet wide. Each leaf is held on a 6-foot-tall stalk. “Black Magic” possesses solid purple leaves, while
“Illustris” grows charcoal black leaves with green veins. Elephant’s ears die down to the ground if the temperature
drops to 30 degrees Fahrenheit, but they usually grow again in the spring. Umbrella plants (Peltiphyllum peltatum) are
native to Oregon and Northern California. This plant produces large round clusters of pink flowers on top of bare stalks
6 feet tall. Shield-shaped leaves appear on top of 2- to 6-foot tall stalks.
Shrubs
Shrubs provide an upright element in a waterlogged area and spread quickly to fill in landscaping gaps. Oso berry
bushes (Oemleria cerasiformis), native to the Pacific Northwest and California, reach 3 to 15 feet tall and 12 feet wide.
Tiny white flowers form 4-inch-long clusters with an almond scent. Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), a round
shrub, reach 3 to 15 feet tall and wide with 1 1/2-inch-wide flower heads made up of white tubular blossoms appearing
in the late summer. “Hummingbird” summersweet (Clethra alnifolia “Hummingbird”), a deciduous shrub, grows 3 to 4
feet tall and wide with white flower spikes in the summer. Other types of summersweet to grow are “Sixteen Candles”
and “Ruby Spice.”
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References
Sunset: Oemleria Cerasiformis (http://plantfinder.sunset.com/plant-details.jsp?id=3792)
Sunset: Cephalanthus Occidentalis (http://plantfinder.sunset.com/plant-details.jsp?id=3347)
Monrovia: Hummingbird Summersweet (http://www.monrovia.com/plant-catalog/plants/907/hummingbird-
summersweet.php)
Learn2Grow: Acorus Calamus (http://www.learn2grow.com/plants/acorus-calamus/)
Sunset: Chondropetalum Elephantinum (http://plantfinder.sunset.com/plant-details.jsp?id=696)
Monrovia: Black Magic Elephant Ear (http://www.monrovia.com/plant-catalog/plants/758/black-magic-elephant-
ear.php)
Monrovia: Horsetail Reed (http://www.monrovia.com/plant-catalog/plants/1082/horsetail-reed.php)
Sunset: Schoenoplectus Lacustris Tabernaemontani “Zebrinus” (http://plantfinder.sunset.com
/m/details.jsp;jsessionid=1006EA1F3EFAF7360337B181AD80B0BB?id=4032)
The New Sunset Western Garden Book; Kathleen Norris Brenzel
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