ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Native Prairie Plants for a Rain Garden

Updated on September 2, 2014

Rain gardens are a beautiful way to solve drainage problems and reduce stormwater runoff from your property.

Most rain garden designers recommend using native plants in rain gardens because they are better adapted to local conditions than exotic and naturalized plants. Most native plants of the prairie and plains regions, however, prefer well drained soil and do not tolerate standing water even for a few days.

Fortunately, there are some beautiful exceptions. This hub will introduce you to a few beautiful native prairie plants that are suitable for use in a rain garden.

Bergamot photo by audreyjm529
Bergamot photo by audreyjm529
Cupplant photo by
Cupplant photo by
New England aster photo by benimoto.
New England aster photo by benimoto.

Native Prairie Wildflowers for Rain Gardens

All plants prefer full to partial sun.

  • Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa). Bergamot, sometimes known as bee balm, has uniquely shaped lavendar, pink, or red flowers that bloom profusely in summer and are popular with butterflies and hummingbirds.
  • Ironweed (Vernonia fasciculata). Ironweed's bright red or purple blooms are perfect for adding color to the late summer rain garden, and are a favorite of many butterflies.
  • Red milkweed (Asclepias incarnata). An attractive milkweed with red flowers that thrives in moist conditions, red milkweed is also a favorite of the beautiful monarch butterfly, which uses the plant as a host for its caterpillars and returns as an adult to drink the nectar.
  • Marsh phlox (Phlox glaberrima). This handsome pink phlox blooms profusely throughout much of the summer months and is popular with butterflies and hummingbirds.
  • Cupplant (Silphium perfoliatum). By far the tallest of the plants listed here at 6-10 feet, Cupplants are one of the finest wildlife plants in existence. The large, cup-shaped leaves of the plant collect rainwater after storms and are used by butterflies and other small animals as drinking fountains. The leaves and thickly growing stems also provide shelter, and the profuse yellow, daisy-like flowers produce nectar for butterflies and tasty seeds that draw birds in autumn.
  • Ohio goldenrod (Solidago ohioensis). A showy yellow goldenrod that provides great late summer color and is popular with butterflies and birds.
  • New England aster (Aster novae-angliae). Another excellent wildlife plant, the New England aster blooms spectacularly in late summer and autumn with hundreds of tiny purple, blue, or pink flowers. Extremely popular with butterflies, especially monarchs, the seeds are also a tasty treat for birds.
  • Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica). One of the rare prairie plants that does well in damp clay soil, Great Blue Lobelia produces attractive spikes of deep blue flowers in late summer and early fall. Popular with hummingbirds.

Native Prairie Grasses for Rain Gardens

All grasses prefer full to partial sun.

  • Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum). Switchgrass is gaining popularity as an ornamental grass in the United States and its versatility makes it perfect for rain gardens as well. The grass is blue green in summer and an attractive pale gold in winter, and it produces beautiful, lacy seedheads in late summer or early fall.
  • Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans). This attractive grass produces beautiful golden, plume-like seedheads in fall.
  • Fox sedge (Carex vulpinoidea). This sedge has interesting spiky seedheads and grows well in damp and wet soils.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • BkCreative profile image


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Planting native species instead of invasive - we are reminded that we are not the only animals living in this environment - other species should have food as well. It just makes so much sense. When are we going to be responsible for our beautiful environment. Instead we live with flooding and runoffs and don't know why.

      You've put together a great hub and great selection of plants.

      Rated up and Yay!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      The deep rooted prairie grasses such as the ones mentioned are excellent to increase water infiltration into the soil. Big Bluestem is also an excellent one to add to the list of species. It is very important that the plants chosen fit the final moisture regime of the site. Some rain gardens are installed into extremely droughty soils and plants will not survive there unless adapted to this condition while other sites may remain poorly drained and plants that love high moisture should be planted there.

    • Zollstock profile image


      9 years ago from Germany originally, now loving the Pacific NW

      This information is going to come in very handy - we get quite a bit of rain in our corner of the world, and my garden could use some changes! I have experimented with Lobelia, New England Aster, and Phlox (love them all) .... but your note about Bergamot caught my eye. Is this what is used for Bergamot oil in Earl Grey tea - do you know? And if so, is the plant equally fragrant?

    • GreenGardenGuy profile image


      9 years ago from Fort Myers, FL

      Kerryg, your hubs always rock, so much info. Thank you!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)