Plants for Rain Gardens

Plants for Rain Gardens

Rain gardens are shallow depressions that are designed to collect water after a rainfall (between 3″ to 12″ of water) and then soak the water up within 48 hours. Then they are dry until the next rainfall. They are a great way to prevent pollutants and flooding downstream by preventing water from running off roofs, parking lots, and streets.

The plants in this list are perfect for rain gardens because they can survive being underwater for 24-48 hours and can handle dry periods between rainfalls. Put these plants in the middle of the depression where they will get plenty of water, and put other dry plants around the border where water won’t pond.

Download our 2017 Plant List and Prices

We sell plants in 6-packs, 3.5″ pots, gallon sized pots, and seed packs. We also grow plants in wholesale trays with 2″ plugs (50-cell tray) or 1.5″ plugs (72-cell tray). To order plants, email us at or call us at 507-402-8337.

Our selection includes:

Buy Marsh Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) Wildflowers Minnesota Marsh Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

A perfect plant for wet areas such as rain gardens. Host plant for Monarch butterfly caterpillars and a favorite of pollinators of all kinds. Deer resistant. Can even handle wet clay. See details

Buy New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae) Wildflowers Minnesota New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae)

Every garden needs an aster for fall blooms, and this one will not disappoint. Its ability to grow in both wet and dry soils makes this one of the most popular asters, for people and pollinators. Prolific purple flowers cover the tops of tall stems. See details

 Buy Blue Wild Indigo (Baptisia australis) Wildflowers Minnesota Blue Wild Indigo (Baptisia australis)

Prolific deep blue flower spikes cover this bushy plant. Blooms early in the summer. It’s long-standing stems remain upright through the winter. See details

Buy Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris) Wildflowers Minnesota Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)

A short, pretty flower for wet and saturated soils in shade or sun! Provides early spring blooms and will occasionally bloom again in the fall. See details

 Buy Prairie Sedge (Carex brevior) Grasses Minnesota Prairie Sedge (Carex brevior)

Sedges are like grasses, but they are cool season growers, sprouting out of the ground as soon as the snow is gone and long before the warm season prairie grasses come out of dormancy. They provide much needed green growth early in the spring. Prairie Sedge has short leaves and lots of seed heads. See details

 Buy Bottlebrush Sedge (Carex comosa) Grasses Minnesota Bottlebrush Sedge (Carex comosa)

Bottlebrush Sedge likes wet soil and is especially well suited for rain gardens, forming dense clumps that grow large over time. It can also survive dry spells in-between rainfalls. See details

 Buy Bur Sedge (Carex grayi) Grasses Minnesota Bur Sedge (Carex grayi)

Bur Sedge can be seen in many gardens, popular due to its versatility and star-shaped seed heads that persist through the winter–seeds that are often eaten by songbirds. Prefers moist soils and a little shade. See details

 Buy Palm Sedge (Carex muskingumensis) Grasses Minnesota Palm Sedge (Carex muskingumensis)

An ornamental sedge whose stems and leaves look like palm trees. Can handle shady and wet areas. When planted closely it creates a dense canopy. See details

 Buy Star Sedge (Carex radiata) Grasses Minnesota Star Sedge (Carex radiata)

Popular ornamental sedge that forms short clumps early in spring. Thin, bright-green leaves and star-shaped seed heads make this an appealing plant. Perfect for borders and when scattered throughout a garden, adding spring green to otherwise dormant gardens. See details

 Buy Long Beaked Sedge (Carex sprengelii) Grasses Minnesota Long Beaked Sedge (Carex sprengelii)

An increasingly popular sedge for shady and sunny gardens. Long beaked sedge spreads slowly, covering the ground with airy leaves and drooping seed heads. See details

Tussock Sedge (Carex stricta)

This tough sedge forms hummocks over time–raised clumps of plant matter that rise above the surrounding soil. They grow this way to stay above temporary flooding, which makes them a natural choice for rain gardens and wetland restorations. See details

 Buy Fox Sedge (Carex vulpinoidea) Grasses Minnesota Fox Sedge (Carex vulpinoidea)

One of the best choices for rain gardens, Fox Sedge can handle temporary flooding and periods of dryness. It forms dense clumps with fine, mounding leaves. Every rain garden needs some scattered throughout. See details

Buy Dutchman's Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) Wildflowers Minnesota Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)

A woodland flower for shady spots. Blooms in early spring and goes dormant the rest of the year. Great for shady borders next to lawns and sidewalks where a short plant is needed. See details

Buy Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculatum) Wildflowers Minnesota Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculatum)

A meadow giant at over 5 feet tall, Joe Pye Weed has loads of flowers that attract pollinators and butterflies. Excellent choice for large rain gardens and garden backdrops. See details

Buy Bottle Gentian (Gentiana andrewsii) Wildflowers Minnesota Bottle Gentian (Gentiana andrewsii)

The bottle-shaped flowers are a consistent head-turner in gardens, whether it’s the deep blue shade of their flowers, the glossy texture of their leaves, or their late summer bloom window when many other flowers are long gone. Long-lived and won’t spread. Great for rain gardens. See details

Buy Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale) Wildflowers Minnesota Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale)

A large wetland flower perfect for rain gardens and shoreline restorations. It compliments other moisture-loving flowers that bloom in the late summer such as Blazing Stars, New England Aster, and Ironweed. It’s also a favorite of pollinators. See details

Sweet Grass (Hierochloe odorata)

Sweet grass is known for its scented foliage and the use of its tough leaves to make braids. It’s also a great soil stabilizer in wet locations, spreading quickly by underground rhizomes (roots). See details

Buy Blue Flag Iris (Iris versicolor) Wildflowers Minnesota Blue Flag Iris (Iris versicolor)

Blue Flag Iris is a true wetland plant that thrives in wet soil and even under water! Grows well in rain gardens, shoreline restorations under up to 6 inches of water, and even potted and placed in ponds. Can grow in soil with medium moisture, too. Spreads slowly to form tight clumps. See details

Common Rush (Juncus effusus)

Round stems make this plant look like a large porcupine. It’s a wetland plant found around the world, which shows its adaptability. Prefers wet conditions but can handle dry periods in rain gardens. See details

Buy Meadow Blazing Star (Liatris ligulistylis) Wildflowers Minnesota Meadow Blazing Star (Liatris ligulistylis)

The Monarch Magnet! Attracts swarms of monarch butterflies during August and September. Gets more comments, oohs-and-ahhs than any other flower. A visual reminder while that many plants are said to attract butterflies and pollinators, some are on a whole different level! Needs medium soil moisture, so mulch it well or add it to a rain garden. See details

Buy Prairie Blazing Star (Liatris pycnostachya) Wildflowers Minnesota Prairie Blazing Star (Liatris pycnostachya)

Tall, bright stems loaded with flowers make this an eye-catching plant and favorite of hummingbirds, butterflies, and pollinators. Grows in a clump that can produce dozens of flower stems. Can handle wet, clay soils–perfect for rain gardens and shoreline restorations. See details

Buy Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) Wildflowers Minnesota Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

Hummingbirds love the bright red flowers on the tall stems. Very eye-catching when planted in a drift in a rain garden or other location with lots of moisture. Starts out as an inconspicuous clumped mat of leaves, and then shoots up before bursting with color. See details

Buy Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) Wildflowers Minnesota Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)

Great Blue Lobelia has a short stature and long blooming period which makes it a favorite for rain gardens with some shade or full sun. One of the few plants that can handle wet clay soils. See details

Buy Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) Wildflowers Minnesota Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica)

A woodland classic–Virginia Bluebells looks incredible when blanketing a shady garden in spring. The variation of blue, purple, and pink flowers is like cotton candy for the eyes. Goes dormant after blooming, giving other shady plants a chance to stand out. See details

Buy Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) Wildflowers Minnesota Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

Wild Bergamot, also called bee balm or monarda, forms large bushy clumps with tons of lavender flowers blanketing the top. Swallowtail butterflies and pollinators are attracted to this plant for nectar and pollen. Minty leaves smell good when touched. See details

Buy Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum) Grass Minnesota Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum)

A seriously tough and adaptable grass. Able to withstand clay, sand, flooding, and drought. Tall, airy seed heads add a serene look to any garden or prairie, especially when they start to wave in the wind. See details

Buy Wild Blue Phlox (Phlox divaricata) Wildflowers Minnesota Wild Blue Phlox (Phlox divaricata)

Wild Blue Phlox is a woodland plant perfect for shady gardens. The blue-to-pink flowers bloom in the spring on top of thin stems, making it a good companion for other spring blooming plants. See details

Buy Prairie Phlox (Phlox pilosa) Wildflowers Minnesota Prairie Phlox (Phlox pilosa)

Fluorescent pink flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies in late spring. A must-have for any sunny garden. When planted in a long drift, this short plant makes quite the visual impact. Great for short borders and boulevard gardens. See details

Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum virginianum)

Mountain Mint is a pollinator paradise. It spreads to form large clumps that are covered in small, white flowers that pollinators crave. Minty leaves are a welcome benefit when working in the garden. See details

Buy Orange Coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida) Wildflowers Minnesota Orange Coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida)

A favorite of perennial gardens for its large, deep green leaves and almost-orange flowers. Butterflies and pollinators love it, too. Slowly spreads to form large clumps. Blooms later than most yellow flowers, making it a perfect companion for New England Aster and Bottle Gentian in rain gardens. See details

Buy Sweet Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia subtomentosa) Wildflowers Minnesota Sweet Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia subtomentosa)

This flower can handle clay and soils with a lot of moisture. It’s a large plant with lots of yellow flowers in late summer. Good choice for rain gardens. See details

Wool Grass (Scirpus cyperinus)

Wool grass forms dense clumps of fine textured leaves, and then produces seed stalks with large puffs of seeds on top. It’s a unique addition to rain gardens and the edges of ponds. See details

Buy Compass Plant (Silphium laciniatum) Wildflowers Minnesota Compass Plant (Silphium laciniatum)

Compass plants rises above the summer prairie with thick stalks loaded with large yellow flowers. Deep roots help it survive droughts. Birds can be seen eating the seeds in fall and winter, making it a valuable plant for bird lovers. See details

Buy Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum) Wildflowers Minnesota Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum)

Goldfinches flock to the seeds of Cup Plant in fall and winter. The leaves connect around the stems to form a cup which collects rainwater and dew even during dry weeks, making it a valuable source of water for birds and butterflies. See details

Buy Prairie Dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum) Wildflowers Minnesota Prairie Dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum)

Huge elephant-ear leaves grow in short clumps, sending giant stalks high into sky that burst with yellow flowers. A very unique plant and a welcome addition to any garden–whether it’s just one specimen plant, or a backdrop of tall stalks. Birds eat the seeds. See details

Buy Zig Zag Goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis) Wildflowers Minnesota Zig Zag Goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis)

A fall blooming flower for shady gardens. Small yellow flowers zig-zag up the stems. Looks great when planted next to fall blooming woodland asters. See details

 Buy Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis) Grasses Minnesota Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis)

The most ornamental of all prairie grasses, Prairie Dropseed forms dense clumps to create a mound of fine-textured leaves. The seed heads are airy and blow gracefully in the wind. The leaves mat down in the winter, providing natural mulch year after year. The seeds give off a spicy aroma that provides another sensory experience in gardens. See details

Buy Prairie Spiderwort (Tradescantia bracteata) Wildflowers Minnesota Prairie Spiderwort (Tradescantia bracteata)

Fluorescent blue flowers bloom early and often on this short spiderwort. It spreads by underground roots (rhizomes) to form small colonies on dry to medium soils. A nice addition to garden borders. See details

Buy Ohio Spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis) Wildflowers Minnesota Ohio Spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis)

Ohio Spiderwort has a small bunch of blue flowers on top of bare stems. It spreads by seed–so plant it in gardens where it is allowed to spread or in prairie restorations. The flowers will eventually be seen scattered throughout, providing a complimentary color to yellow blooming prairie flowers. See details

Buy Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata) Wildflowers Minnesota Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata)

Blue Vervain is a fast-growing plant with dozens of blue flowers on top. It establishes quickly in medium to moist soils, and is well suited for rain gardens and shoreline restorations. Great for butterflies and pollinators. See details

Buy Ironweed (Vernonia fasciculata) Wildflowers Minnesota Ironweed (Vernonia fasciculata)

Ironweed is a favorite nectar source of Monarchs and other butterflies. It paints the garden with large brush strokes of purple flowers. When planted next to Marsh Milkweed, expect a constant supply of monarchs in late summer. Great for rain gardens and large gardens with moist soil. See details

Buy Culver's Root (Veronicastrum virginicum) Wildflowers Minnesota Culver’s Root (Veronicastrum virginicum)

White flower spikes outlined with orange hairs add a unique color and texture to a garden. Culver’s Root can handle shadier gardens and moist soil, making it a valuable flower for hard-to-grow areas. See details

Buy Golden Alexander's (Zizia aurea) Wildflowers Minnesota Golden Alexander’s (Zizia aurea)

An early blooming flower for difficult locations, such as shadier areas and clay soils. The flowerheads are loaded with lots of little yellow flowers, a welcome sight in the spring while many prairie plants have barely started to grow. See details