Erythronium californicum

10 plants for moist soil

Discover 10 plants that thrive in moist soil, plus tips on getting the best from damp conditions in your garden.

The UK weather is hard to predict and almost certainly involves a fair amount of rain, with some areas of the country receiving more than others.

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Gardens can have many different microclimates within them, too, which may mean that you have dry areas (under a tree, for example) and damp areas within a relatively small area.

As ever, it’s best to play to the strengths of your garden, by choosing plants that thrive in the conditions it offers – which may mean you plant different plants in different parts of the garden. If you have an area that is very damp and drains poorly, you could consider creating a bog garden.

More advice on your soil type:

Happily, many plants thrive in moist, well drained soil. Here are some plants that love moist soil.

It's best to play to the strengths of your garden, by choosing plants that thrive in the conditions it offers. Happily, many plants thrive in moist but well drained soil.

1

Hosta

Hosta 'Yellow River'
Hosta ‘Yellow River’

Hostas thrive in a damp spot. Hosta ‘Yellow River’ is a large variety, with veined green leaves with yellow margins, and purple flowers from July to August. It’s more tolerant of sun than other hostas, so is perfect for growing in a sunny or partially shaded border. Be sure to protect from slugs and snails.

2

Himalayan honeysuckle

Himalayan honeysuckle flowers
Himalayan honeysuckle flowers

Leycesteria formosa is an attractive shrub with a long season of interest, bearing shapely leaves, trailing white and claret flowers from mid- to late summer, followed by reddish purple berries in autumn. The flowers are a magnet for bees and the berries attract many species of bird, including blackbirds. Grow in full sun or partial shade.

3

False goatsbeard

Pink astilbe flower plumes
Pink astilbe flower plumes

Astilbes (false goatsbeard) bear masses of ferny foliage, from which elegant plumes of feathery flowers appear from late-spring. They do best in shady, woodland garden schemes where their pink or white blooms provide a splash of colour.

4

Siberian flag iris

Iris 'Tropic Night'
Iris ‘Tropic Night’

Iris sibirica produces small, delicate flowers and narrow, bright green foliage. It forms clumps, so needs space to spread out. Grow in neutral to slightly acidic soil in sun or partial shade.

5

Bleeding heart

Bleeding heart flowers
Bleeding heart flowers

Lamprocapnos spectabilis, formerly known as Dicentra spectablilis, bleeding heart, has heart-shaped flowers with white tips, which hang from arching flower stems in late spring to early summer. Although it grows in light shade it often does even better in a sunny border, provided the soil stays sufficiently moist.

6

Hydrangea

Hydrangea 'Jogosaki' flowers
Hydrangea ‘Jogosaki’ flowers

Many beautiful and versatile new hydrangeas have been introduced in recent years, and there are some beautiful varieties for all kinds of garden. Discover nine of the best hydrangeas to grow. They will thrive in shade or sun but do like moist soil.

7

Masterwort

Astrantia 'Shaggy' flowers
Astrantia ‘Shaggy’ flowers

Astrantias prefer moist soils but will tolerate drier conditions as long as the plants are mulched with leaf mould. Astrantia major ‘Shaggy’ has striking, large flowers with green-tipped, pointed white bracts, held above a mound of glossy green leaves. For best results, grow in partial shade.

8

Candelabra primula

Primula 'Miller's Crimson' in flower
Primula ‘Miller’s Crimson’ in flower

Candelabra primulas form semi-evergreen rosettes of leaves, from which appear upright spikes of small flowers in early summer. Plants are best grown in groups and allowed to self-seed, so don’t deadhead after flowering. They’re a good choice for a damp, woodland garden. For best results grow in moist, acidic to neutral soil, in partial shade.

9

Bistort

Persicaria flowers
Persicaria flowers

Persicarias are mat-forming perennials, bearing an evergreen carpet of tidy green leaves, from which short spikes of flowers appear from midsummer to autumn. Perfect for using as ground cover, they are ideal for growing at the front of a border in sun or partial shade.

10

Dogwood

Cornus alba 'Sibirica' winter stems
Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’ winter stems

Colourful-barked dogwoods are grown for winter colour, when their colourful, leafless stems shine like beacons in the bare winter garden. Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’ has deep red stems, greyish green, white-margined leaves, small, creamy-white flowers and clusters of white berries. It produces the brightest stems when planted in full sun.


Tips for dealing with moist soil

  • Add grit to improve drainage – this is especially important during the winter months, as many plants do not enjoy sitting in cold, very wet soil
  • Add well-rotted compost at least once a year – this will help to aerate the soil
  • Heavy rain can compact the soil surface, creating a ‘pan’. Break up the soil surface with a fork to prevent a pan forming
  • Don’t walk on the soil after heavy rain – this will compact it further. Stand on a plank when digging or planting
  • Excessive rainfall washes nutrients from the soil. Keep your plants healthy and flowering and fruiting well by digging in well-rotted compost or manure, or by feeding with fertiliser such as chicken pellets. Watch our video guide to feeding your plants in summer
  • Slugs and snails thrive in damp conditions. Be vigilant and pick off any that you see. Scatter slug pellets sparingly – organic ones have been found to be just as effective as chemical ones. Discover ways of keeping slugs and snails at bay
  • If your soil is very wet, consider creating raised beds – this will allow you to grow a wider range of plants

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More plants for moist soil

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