Long grass planted in a rain garden

6 Best Plants for Rain Gardens

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Oakleaf Hydrangea Cardinal Flower Bee Balm Joe Pye Weed Black-eyed Susan Southern Blue Flag

Plants in a rain garden help slow down and filter out pollution in water before it reaches streams. There are certain plants that work well in North Carolina. These native plants: 

  1. Grow well in moist soil; 
  2. Take in water leading to transpiration; 
  3. Have root growth that increases water absorption, enhances gas exchange, and reduces erosion; and,
  4. Look beautiful! 

Oakleaf Hydrangea

Oakleaf hydrangea
  • Cone-shaped flowers
  • Grows best in partial/full shade
  • Attracts songbirds
  • Offers white bloom in summer and darker colors in fall

Cardinal Flower

Cardinal Flower
  • Up to 4-5' tall
  • Late summer bloom
  • Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies

Bee Balm

A bee getting pollen from a pink bee balm flower
  • Historically used for medicinal purposes
  • Attracts bees
  • Resistant to damage from deer and rabbits
  • Drought resistant

Joe Pye Weed

A butterfly on a pink joe pye weed flower
  • Nice fragrance
  • Resistant to damage from deer
  • Seeds provide food to songbirds

Black-eyed Susan

Yellow black-eyed susan flowers
  • 2-3' tall
  • Thrives in soggy soils, but can tolerate hot, humid summers
  • Attracts songbirds and butterflies
  • Drought resistant

Southern Blue Flag

A purple southern blue flag flower
  • Beautiful purple flowers
  • Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies
  • Resistant to insects