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Rain Gardening Ideas

Recently, an impressive amount of rain has fallen in South Carolina. With excess rainfall, also comes an increased potential for stormwater runoff. A landscape feature that can help mediate stormwater is a rain garden. Rain gardens are landscaped depressions that receive stormwater runoff and allow the water to infiltrate the soil slowly, eventually reaching the groundwater table. (See Figure 1). A rain garden can add both beauty and functionality to any landscape. Multiple plant species can be used in a rain garden, including shrubs, perennials (both shade and sun-loving), and grasses. Please see the plant lists below for rain garden plant recommendations.

To learn more about rain gardens or about how to become a Master Rain Gardener, see  https://www.clemson.edu/extension/raingarden/mrg/index.html.

Figure 1: Rain gardens are landscaped depressions that receive stormwater runoff and allow the water to infiltrate the soil slowly, eventually reaching the groundwater table.

Figure 1: Rain gardens are landscaped depressions that receive stormwater runoff and allow the water to infiltrate the soil slowly, eventually reaching the groundwater table.
Illustration credit: A Guide to Rain Gardens in South Carolina (Clemson Cooperative Extension)

Rain Garden Plant Recommendations

SC Region Common Name Scientific Name
Grasses
All Big Bluestem Andropogon gerardii
All Little Bluestem Schizachyrium scoparium
All River Oats Chasmanthium latifolium
All Switchgrass Panicium virgatum
Sweetgrass, Muhly GrassMuhlenbergia capillaris
Perennials
All Columbine Aquilegia canadensis
All Swamp Milkweed Asclepias incarnata
All Butterfly Milkweed Asclepias tuberosa
All Water/Louisiana Canna Canna glauca
All Joe Pye Weed Eutrochium purpureum
All Swamp Sunflower Helianthus angustifolius
Coastal Plain Beach Sunflower Helianthus debilis
Coastal Plain Scarlet Hibiscus Hibiscus coccineus
All Marsh Mallow Hibiscus Hibiscus moscheutos
Coastal Plain Virginia Iris Iris virginica
All Blazing Star Liatris spicata
All Cardinal Flower Lobelia cardinalis
All Blue Lobelia Lobelia siphilitc
All Bee Balm Lobelia cardinalis
All Black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia fulgida
All Cutleaf Coneflower Rudbeckia laciniata
All Goldenrod Solidago spp.
All Stoke’s Aster Stokesia laevis
All Ironweed Vernonia noveboracensis
Ferns
All Lady Fern Athyrium filix-femina
All Cinnamon Fern Osmunda cinnamomea
All Sensitive Fern Osmunda sensibilis
All Royal Fern Osmunda regalis
All Christmas Fern Polystichum acrostichoides
Shrubs
All American Beauty Callicarpa americana
All Buttonbush Cephalanthus occidentalis
All Virginia Sweetspire Itea virginica
All Swamp Azalea Rhododendron viscosum
Sandhills to Coastal Plain Dwarf Palmetto Sabal minor
Sandhills to Coastal Plain Saw Palmetto Serenoa repens
All Spicebush Lindera benzoin

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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