Go native!

Plants for rain gardens need to be able to withstand brief periods of standing water yet be able to tolerate extended periods of dryness. While there are a number of plants that can do well under these conditions, the best are those native to our region. Native plants have evolved to thrive in our local environment and provide great habitat for beneficial insects, including bees and butterflies.

The plants below are recommended for use in either sunny or shady rain gardens in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Plants for sunny rain gardens

  • Andropogon gerardii - Big Bluestem
  • Asclepias incarnata - Pink or Swamp Milkweed
  • Aster novae-angliae - New England Aster
  • Aster puniceus - Purple-stemmed Aster
  • Aster shortii - Short's Aster
  • Aster umbellatus - Flat-topped Aster
  • Caltha palustris - Marsh Marigold
  • Coreopsis tripteris - Tall Tickseed
  • Elymus hystrix - Bottlebrush Grass
  • Elymus virginicus - Wild Rye
  • Eupatorium fistulosum - Joe-Pye Weed
  • Eupatorium perfoliatum - Boneset
  • Gentiana clausa - Bottle Gentian
  • Helenium autumnale - Common Sneezeweed
  • Helianthus giganteus - Tall Sunflower
  • Heliopsis helianthoides - Oxeye
  • Hibiscus moscheutos - Swamp Rose Mallow
  • Liatris spicata - Blazing Star
  • Lobelia cardinalis - Cardinal Flower
  • Lobelia cardinalis x siphilitica "Beechwood Blend"
  • obelia siphilitica - Great Blue Lobelia
  • Monarda didyma - Bee-balm
  • Monarda media - Purple Bergamot
  • Panicum virgatum - Switchgrass
  • Penstemon digitalis - White Beardtongue
  • Rudbeckia laciniata - Green-headed Coneflower
  • Rudbeckia triloba - Three-lobed Coneflower
  • Solidago rugosa - Rough-stemmed Goldenrod
  • Verbena hastata - Blue Vervain
  • Vernonia noveboracensis - New York Ironweed
  • Veronicastrum virginicum - Culver's Root

Plants for shady rain gardens

  • Caltha palustris - Marsh Marigold
  • Chelone glabra - White Turtlehead
  • Dryopteris marginalis - Marginal Wood Fern
  • Geranium maculatum - Wild Geranium
  • Helianthus decapetalus - Thin-leaved Sunflower
  • Helianthus divaricatus - Woodland Sunflower
  • Hydrophyllum canadense - Maple-leaved Waterleaf
  • Iris versicolor - Northern Blue Flag
  • Luzula acuminata - Hairy Woodrush
  • Mertensia virginica - Virginia Bluebells
  • Mimulus ringens - Monkey Flower
  • Monarda clinopodia - Basil Balm
  • Onoclea sensibilis - Sensitive Fern
  • Phlox maculata - Meadow Phlox
  • Phlox paniculata - Summer Phlox
  • Polemonium reptans - Spreading Jacob's Ladder
  • Senecio aureus - Golden Ragwort
  • Sisyrinchium angustifolium - Blue-eyed Grass
  • Spiraea alba - Meadowsweet
  • Thalictrum pubescens - Tall Meadow Rue
  • Tradescantia virginiana - Spiderwort
  • Viola striata - Creamy Violet

Rain garden shrubs/trees

  • Celtis occidentalis - Hackberry
  • Cornus amomum - Silky Dogwood
  • Hydrangea arborescens - Wild Hydrangea
  • Lindera benzoin - Spicebush
  • Nyssa sylvatica - Tupelo
  • Physocarpus opulifolius - Ninebark
  • Rhododendron meximum - Rosebay
  • Sambucus canadensis - Common Elderberry
  • Spiraea alba - Meadowsweet
  • Viburnum dentatum - Arrowwood

For more information or to see pictures of these plants, please visit the Audubon Center for Native Plants website or stop in at Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve at 614 Dorseyville Rd., Pittsburgh, PA 15238.