Native Plants for New England Rain Gardens [fact sheet]

Iris versicolor at a rain garden inlet

This plant list includes native plant species and cultivars that are adaptable, available, and have been widely successful in our northern New England region. It is a place to begin, but it is not intended to be a comprehensive list of all plants that may be used in rain gardens. Plant enthusiasts may want to consult other resources and try new plants on their own, but those who want a “Tried and True” list of plants to choose from may find all that they need right here. We use natives because rain gardens may border natural areas and we want to avoid introducing new non-native plants into the environment.

- Plants are adapted to either full sun (≥6 hours of direct sunlight), partial sun (3-6 hours of direct sunlight), or full shade (≤ 3 hours of direct sunlight). Consider that some areas of the garden may be sunny and some made be shady and that the exposure may change throughout the seasons.
Soil Moisture
- Clay soils tend to stay wet for longer periods than sandy, well-drained soils. There is also variation in soil moisture
between the rain garden planting zones. Use the soil moisture preferences to choose plants that tolerate the conditions in your rain garden and to place them in the proper zone.
Plant Spacing 
- Mature size is given as a range because it varies greatly depending on cultivars and environment. The height and
spread (width) of each plant is listed. Space plants to allow them to grow to their full size. Consider placing taller plants in the center or back of the garden with shorter plants layered under or in front of them. Ground covers work well on the berm.
Bloom Period & Color
- Consider how different colored flowers will complement each other in the garden. Select plants with early,
middle, and late season blooms to provide interest and support pollinators throughout the season.
USDA Hardiness Zone
- The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone is the standard used to indicate which plants can survive the winter
based on the average annual minimum winter temperature for a given location. New England hardiness zones range from 3 in the northern parts of the region to 7 in the southern and coastal areas.
Download the Resource for the complete fact sheet and a printable version.
Anna Boudreau Supports Extension

I Support Extension

Anna Boudreau
State Advisory Council Chair, Natural Resources Steward and NH Coverts Cooperator