Plants for Damp or Marshy Areas in Your Garden

A wet or marshy area of the garden provides a wonderful opportunity to grow some spectacular, indigenous, moisture-loving plants...

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Landscaping for Damp or Marshy Areas

Wet or marshy areas need not be a problem for whether in the form of a pond, a bubbling stream or a wetland area, they add a whole new dimension to the garden, as it allows for the addition of many lovely moisture loving plants that could otherwise not be considered.
There are a large number of indigenous plants that thrive in damp conditions, some, with lush foliage add a cool tropical feel while others, with beautiful flowers, add splashes of vibrant colour to the landscape.

The following moisture loving foliage plants will impart a lush tropical atmosphere to damp or marshy areas:

Cyathea dregei (Common tree fern)
No water garden or marshy area should be without the magnificent tree fern. These lovely plants look stunning when grouped together, creating a truly luxuriant tropical atmosphere in damp areas. As Cyathea dregei is a protected species make sure to obtain yours from a reputable dealer.  Cyathea australis is widely available and is an excellent substitute for Cyathea dregei.

Cyperus papyrus (Papyrus)
The long erect stems of Papyrus are crowned with a mop of fine thread-like flower spikes. These fast growing wetland plants establish themselves quickly making them ideal for the beginner's garden.

Ensete ventricosum (Wild banana)
The magnificent, massive leaves of the Wild banana are unsurpassed in imparting a lush feel to any water garden or wetland area.

Adiantum capillus-veneris (Maidenhair fern)
The delicate, confetti-like foliage of this well known, graceful fern is perfect as a contrast with bolder leafed moisture loving plants.

For colour in damp or marshy areas try some of the following indigenous varieties:

Watsonia hybrids (Watsonia)
When planted en masse, these are amongst the showiest of indigenous plants. Available in a variety of shades from white to mauve, pale and deep pink, orange, salmon and red, these moisture loving plants are a must for any wetland area.

Zantedeschia aethiopica (Arum lily)
The beautiful white flowers as well as the attractive, bold leaves of the arum will show up well in marsh or wetland areas. Aside from the white variety, indigenous arums are also available in yellow (Z.Pentiandii) and pinkish-red (Z. Rehmannii).

Clivia miniata (Bush lily)
Clivias are shade loving plants and will look spectacular when planted beneath a group of tree ferns or wild bananas in a wetland area.

Agapanthus africanus (Agapanthus)
Although agapanthus will tolerate drier conditions, they really thrive when planted in a marshy situation and with the wide variety of agapanthus species and hybrids available today, it is possible to have flowering plants for most of the year.

Phygelius capensis (Cape fuchsia)
This fast growing, moisture loving plant bears beautiful drooping, tubular, coral red flowers in summer. Growing up to 1 meter in height, the Cape fuchsia will provide some height in semi shaded damp or marshy areas.

Crinum bulbispermum (Orange river lily)
Preferring moist or marshy conditions Crinum creates a stunning display when the enormous, showy peduncles of trumpet shaped, lily- like pink flowers appear from October to December. Interplant them with agapanthus for an unforgettable show.
There are many more indigenous options for damp or marshy areas but if you are just starting out, a beautiful wetland area can be created using the suggestions here.

Questions and comments


The questions/comments section has been closed as of 1 Sept 2015

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Sep 02 2014, 12:59 PM
I'm converting an old garage into a flatlet for my daughter and I want to direct the grey water from the shower directly into the garden and plant water-loving plants around the water outlet. The area only gets morning sun. Would the plants listed above do well here? Would they need any additional nutrients to be added to the soil? Thank you!
Sep 05 2014, 08:46 AM
Your objective is worthwhile but you should not underestimate the magnitude of the task, or the effort to sustain what you will create. I decided to get further advice from a landscaper friend who has practical experience with this type of project. He triggered all manner of alarm bells. If I have your email address, I'll send you his detailed response to me. But in essence : (1) Many soaps and shampoos contaminate the soil (2) You will need to create a swampy area or marsh with plastic lining (3) You will need to use and trim plants to deal with heavy metals from the water (4) Better to have a submerged tank to allow for settling and then pump the top water onto the garden. If your desire is to save water (which we ALL need to do) then perhaps just use a bucket in the shower to catch running water while the water is heating up. Throw the water onto the lawn or flower beds. Switch water off while soaping and only rinse to get the soap off. Use bio-degradable or environment-friendly soap only. And most of the body can be just rinsed off with just plain water - one doesn't need to use soap everywhere. Phew! Feel free to disregard any of the above - it's just offered in case it's useful. Watch for an email a little later today....


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