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Extension > Garden > Yard and Garden > Flowers > Perennials for moist soils

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Perennials for moist soils

Jill MacKenzie

minnesota zone map

Most perennials demand well-drained soil. They perform poorly and die out when planted in soil that stays wet and soggy. But there are some perennial flowers that tolerate and even thrive in moist soils.

The plants on this list are all hardy for parts of Minnesota, and all do well in moist, poorly-drained soil. They will not tolerate standing water, however, except as noted.

Botanical name


Common names Hardi-
ness zone
Flower color Light require-
Plant height Season of bloom Standing water ok?

Acorus species

Cultivars with variegated foliage are available

sweet flag 3 yellow full sun 3-6 feet July-August yes
Aruncus dioicus goat's beard 3 white sun-part shade 4-6 feet July-August no
Asclepias incarnata swamp milkweed 3 rose-purple full sun 3-4 feet August no
Brunnera macrophylla Siberian bugloss 3 blue sun-part shade 1-2 feet May no
Caltha palustris marsh marigold 3 golden yellow sun-part shade 1-2 feet May yes
Chelone glabra turtle head 3 white part shade 2-5 feet August-September no
Chelone lyonii 4 pink
Chelone obliqua 3 purple
Eupatorium maculatum spotted Joe-pye weed 3 distinctive brownish or rosy-purple sun-part shade 4-6 feet August-September no
Epatorium purpureum green-stemmed Joe-pye weed
Filipendula palmata Siberian meadowsweet 2 pink sun-part shade 4-6 feet June-August no
Filipendula rubra queen of the prairie 3 pink
Filipendula ulmaria queen of the meadow 3 white

Iris pseudacorus

The cultivar 'Variegata' has veriegated foliage.

yellow flag iris 4 pale to deep yellow full sun 2-3 feet June yes

Iris sibirica

Many named cultivars are available

Siberian iris 4 purple, blue, white, bi-colors full sun 2-3 feet June no
Iris versicolor blue flag iris 3 purple full sun 2-3 feet June yes
Ligularia species golden ray 4 golden yellow part shade 1 foot July-September no
Lobelia cardinalis red cardinal flower 2 red, pink, bi-colors full sun 2-3 feet July September no

Lobelia siphilitica

Dwarf varieties available.

blue cardinal flower, blue lobelia 4 blue, white full sun 2-3 feet August-September no
Lysimachia ciliata *fringed loosestrife 3 yellow full sun 2-4 feet July-August no
Lysimachia clethroides *gooseneck loosestrife 3 white

Lysimachia punctata

*These three are not related to the invasive purple lossestrife. See below.

*garden loosestrife 4 yellow
Macleaya cordata species plume poppy 4 white full sun 1 foot July-August no
Myosotis scorpioides true forget-me-not 3 blue sun-part shade 1-2 feet May-June no
Trollius species globeflower 3 yellow full sun 1-2 feet May-June no

Viola cucullata

The cultivar 'Freckles' has blue-flecked white flowers.

blue marsh flower 4 purple, white sun-part shade 6-10 inches May no

Although purple loosestrife, Lythrum salicaria, is also well-adapted to wet areas in Minnesota and does produce an attractive spike of bright flowers, it is not recommended for planting because it is invasive, crowding out native vegetation important to wetland ecosystems. In fact, purple loosestrife is considered a noxious weed in Minnesota, so planting it is illegal.

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