Plants that do well with poor soil drainage

In any gardening guide, you’ll often see the terms like “good drainage” or “well-drained soil” or “plants in poor soil drainage”.  A good soil drainage is a vital requirement for almost any plant to flourish well. But what do the terms “well drained” and “good drainage” actually mean? Are there plants that do well with poor soil drainage?

A well-drained soil is the type of soil where excess water caused by unchecked watering or heavy rain dissolves quickly. Contrarily, if you see a large splash of water on the ground after a hard rain shower, your soil is not draining efficiently. This may cause plant roots to sit deep in water for long periods and prevent them from carrying on adequate respiration to their stalks and leaves. This could slow their growth or even kill them by rotting.

When growing plants in pots, the prime cause of poor drainage are the use of containers having no drainage hole. At least, one hole should be in the pot’s base to allow unnecessary water to drain away.

Perennial flowers – beautiful plants that thrive in poor drainage

Perennial flowering plants are well-suited for poor drainage soil which retains water for long term. They do much better than delicate annuals that need constant draining. Some of these moisture-loving flowering plants thrive in still water while others can tolerate soggy, poorly drained sections of your garden. Moreover, once they get established in your garden, they can produce stunningly vibrant displays in a multitude of your favorite hues!


Daylily is a versatile plant that tolerates both scathing drought and light floods. They come in beautiful shades of orange, pink, purple, red, white and yellow. Growing anywhere between 1 to 8 feet, daylilies are perfect for  rain gardens, low-lying areas, and other wet places. These plants can survive submerged for weeks before they need to be dried out eventually.

Image of Daylily

Newly planted daylilies appreciate regular watering, especially when they’re blooming. Daylily roots efficiently absorb and store water, making them ideal and functional to be put to work for managing landscape run-offs in your gardens. Daylilies prefer exposure to full sunlight but can tolerate part-sun conditions in shaded areas.


Image of Illicium

Illicium beautifies any ugly wet area with their glossy evergreen foliage and vibrant red blooms. These bright colored flowers are equipped with leathery leaves and can grow in marshy  areas  and stream banks. This low-maintenance flower shrub is perfect for naturalizing steep slopes along drainage ways and they thrive without much help. They typically grow to around 4-6 feet in height  with a dense and pyramidal form.


Hibiscus white

While there are multiple varieties of this tropical beauty, the vibrant red hibiscus will instantly add a spicy aesthetic to your garden! ‘Panama Red’ aka hibiscus is a low-maintenance plant that requires moist soils. However, be careful not to let them sit in water for a prolonged period between the rainy months. Try planting them on small mounds of slightly raised elevations to ensure healthy roots.

hibiscus pink

Calla Lily

Calla Lily

Beautiful blooms of calla lily can thrive in a swampy environment. They can continue growing in up to 1 foot of water. Ideal planting sites for calla lily include spots beside a pond or stream and spaces where puddles of water accumulate. They grow from 2 to 3 feet tall and up to 2 feet wide. Varieties come in a wide array of flowers that bloom in many hues of vibrant yellow, deep red, white and pastel shades.

Tangerine Beauty

Image of Tangerine Beauty. Photo Credit:

Tangerine beauty is the perfect garden vine for covering areas made by large fences. Its trumpet-shaped flowers fully bloom in the spring in attractive colors of red and orange. They are easy to grow and the rewarding showy blooms of their flower trumpets are a favorite for both bumblebees and hummingbirds.

Self-clinging to bricks and wood fences, the plant leaves are semi-evergreen and can adorn any unsightly structure with beautiful green foliage. You can plant tangerine beauty anytime and anywhere if the ground is not frozen. They grow the fastest in moist soil, but can also adjust with drought and flooding.

Iris Flowers

Image of Iris flowers

Irises begin showing their colors in late winter to early spring. They bloom in shades of deep purple, blue, white, and yellow, while some hybridized versions that produce blooms are multi-colored. The hybrid varieties are perfect for extending a colorful flower bed at the center of your garden.

The iris plant can grow in height that ranges from 3 inches for the shortest dwarf variety to 4 feet for the tallest iris variety.

Joe Pye Weed

Joe Pye Weed can add a splash of soft purple and lavender to your garden from summer to early fall with its towering blooms. This flowering plant boasts of low-maintenance and adapts easily to slow-drain and boggy soils like heavy clay with ease. They’re great for lining your fence and as back-of-the-border plants for your rain garden.

Joe Pye Weed

You can place them in spots with full sun to part shade exposure. Their flowers attract pollinators like bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects and can grow 5 to 8 feet tall and up 2 to 4 feet wide, so make sure to allow considerable growing space for them.


Poor drainage is a common problem that involves many factors like compaction, subsoils and steep slopes etc. Despite your best efforts to improve soil drainage, problem areas may still persist in the ground of your garden. Fortunately, nature has supplied us with some wide plethora of plants that don’t mind some wet puddles! So, you can still have colorful and thriving gardens even with poor soil drainage by making a careful selection of your plants.

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