Plants for field flooded part of the year

edlincoln(6A)June 2, 2013

What plants can survive being flooded for several months a year and mowed in the summer?

Part of a friend's field is swampy in the Spring, but dries into lawn and is occasionally mowed in the summer.

What flowers could be planted there? I guess the ideal plant would be a swamp loving Spring Ephemeral or a decorative swamp grass that can survive occasional mowing.

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Yup Ed, such things as skunk cabbage, cow parsnip, marsh marigold, and many others, would be well adapted to such a site. Then too, if allowed to go through natural successional stages, such a site would in time become a hardwood swamp, probably with a full compliment of herbaceous plants like those mentioned above, still in the understory. That is, if sufficient populations of such tree species are present in the surrounding area. Likewise with conifer swamps, more a feature to your north I suspect; Seed material must be nearby in order for this plant community to arise.

If it's strictly grasses, sedges, and forbs you're after, then any good reference book on wetland plants will yield many options. And yes, many of these species can indeed withstand only being inundated for a portion of the year.


    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 9:26AM
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I'm looking for something decorative that can survive occasional mowing. Perhaps a flower, or a kind of reed. Marsh Marigold is a good suggestion.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 12:13AM
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A good start might be checking a list of plants recommended for the ponding area of rain gardens in your region. There are resources online, possibly your local library, local public gardens, and certainly your Cooperative Extension Service.

You will find lots of information and inspiration online. U of Minnesota has quite an extensive list for their region - see link below.

With the right plantings, they might decide it is too lovely to mow - thereby cutting down on their work and providing habitat for birds and beneficial insects.

Here is a link that might be useful: U of MN Rain Garden Plants List

    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 10:35AM
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dandy_line(3B (Brainerd, Mn))

The 'swamp' garden can be the most decorative considering the number of spectacular plants available.
EG, Joe Pye, Veronicastrum, Rudbeckia, Lobelia, Boltonia, Aster, Iron Weed, Silphium, and 'Queen of the Prairie'.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 10:52AM
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Marsh Marigold looks like a good possibility. A lot of the plants listed are summer blooming. The catch is the location is flooded in the spring, but dries and is mowed in the summer blooming plants wouldn't work. I'm thinking either Spring Ephemerals that would go into dormancy before the area dried up in late May/Early June, or tall decorative swamp grasses that could survive the combination of drying and mowing in the summer. I just *KNOW* there must be plants that fit the bill...a tulip would bloom and go dormant before the area dries, so presumably any swamp equivalent of the tulip would do well.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 12:20PM
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"Spring ephemerals" usually, at least in my mind, refers to woodland plants. Still, there could be something in that category that could wortk for you. Another one I thought of is Canadian anemone. Low-growing, early-blooming, it might fit the bill. Also quite a colonizer, which I would think would be helpful in this case.


    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 12:52PM
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wisconsitom, Canadian anemone is a GREAT suggestion!

Would it spread too much and mess up the dry portions of the lawn, or wood the Spring mowing in the drier spots keep it under control? Would I buy seeds or bulbs, or would I have to buy adult plants?

Yes, I agree that "spring ephemerals" are ordinarily woodland plants, but aren't there swampy woodands out there? A few types of trees can survive occasionally getting their feet wet. Or am I showing my ignorance here?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 7:43PM
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