Woody Plants for Wet Soils

Woody Plants for Wet Soils
So many woody plants require well drained soils. However, there are a number that are suited to wet soils. These include the following.

American arborvitae

A member of the cypress family, this native is hardy to zone 2. The plant is also called eastern white cedar and eastern arborvitae. It is native in the East southward to North Carolina.

Hardy to zone 3, this evergreen tree or shrub is a rugged, adaptable plant. It will tolerate moderately dry to damp soils. It is native in the East from the Northeast to North Carolina westward to Illinois.

American arborvitae is an open upright conifer, 30 to 60 feet in height with a spread of 10 to 15 feet. It is generally pyramidal, but is sometimes globe-like. The stems and branches usually turn upwards at the ends.

The needles are greenish-yellow to vivid green. In severe winters, the leaves can become brown.

There are many varieties that are widely grown. The species itself isn’t commonly seen in cultivation. Dwarf ones can be used for foundation plantings and as hedges.

There are globe shaped and columnar ones for small spaces. The plant does best in moist climates.

The limbs can be damaged by ice and snow. Many cultivars are available with the growth habit, size, and appearance of the glossy foliage varying from deep green to gold or greenish-blue.

The arborvitaes make good hedges and screens as well as specimen plants. They can also be planted as masses. Various insect and disease problems can affect the arborvitaes.

American Sycamore

American sycamore is also known as American plane tree. It is a very long lived, large, deciduous tree that grows in damp soils, especially along waterways. This is a majestic picturesque tree. In good sites along waterways, it is towering--to 100 feet in height with a matching spread.

This does require a lot of garden space. However, in return it adds a lot of color to the landscape. The plant is used as a street tree, shade tree, and as a specimen.

The trunks and branches are very conspicuous in the winter due to the light colored, exfoliating bark. This tree can have multiple trunks.

The plant is late to leaf out in the spring. The flowers are rather inconspicuous. American sycamore bears ball-like fruits full of seeds. These can persist into the winter.

This tree is native to the East westward to Minnesota. It is hardy to zone 4. This tree withstands urban conditions. One thing to keep in mind with this plant is that there can be quite a bit of litter from this plant, such as fruits, bark, and twigs.

American sycamore can be prone to anthracnose, which can damage the tree and possibly lead to cankers or twig blight during cool moist springs.


Dahoon is an evergreen shrub that is native to the Southeast where it grows in acid, wet soils. It is a type of holly.

This plant can withstand some alkalinity and has some tolerance to salt. The small tree or possibly a large evergreen shrub is an upright dense plant.

This can be used as a specimen or planted as a mass. The plant has no serious problems and requires little care other than pruning to keep it dense.

It reaches 20 to 30 feet in height with a spread of 8 to 15 feet. The narrow, evergreen foliage is leathery, up to 4 inches long. This is pale to deep green. The leaves can become purple tinged during the winter.

The small white blooms aren’t very showy. The female plants bear crops of small showy berries, ¼ inch across, in clusters.

These are usually orange-red to red, but occasionally in some cultivars they can be yellow. These ripen in the fall and persist over the winter.

Hardy to zone 7, this is suited to wet soils for it occurs in swampy sites in the wild.

Related Articles
Editor's Picks Articles
Top Ten Articles
Previous Features
Site Map

Content copyright © 2023 by Connie Krochmal. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Connie Krochmal. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Connie Krochmal for details.