Florida’s rainy season has begun, and Mother Nature has not been shy about pouring down on the Sarasota area lately. Frequent and long-lasting rain can mean the death of many landscape plants (due to excess water and a lack of oxygen), but don’t despair. If you’re looking at a water-soaked area, there’s still hope. Simply design your landscape with water-loving plants that don’t mind having “wet feet.”
But first things first. It’s only logical to check your drainage first to see if you can improve it (you could install a French drain or seek out other remedies). But if that’s not possible, then move on to plant selection. Florida flora offers several plants that can withstand varying degrees of wetness and standing water for a few days at a time. Here are some of ArtisTree Landscape’s favorites:
- TREES: Bald Cypress, Dahoon Holly, Pond Cypress, Simpson’s Stopper, Slash Pine, Sweetgum, Southern Magnolia, Florida Maple and Live Oak.
- PALMS: Needle, Majestic, Paurotis, Royal, Sabal and Saw Palmetto.
- SHRUBS: Buford Holly, Firebush, Philodendron Selloum, Silver Buttonwood, Walter’s Viburnum, Yaupon Holly, Wax Myrtle and certain ferns.
- GRASSES: African Iris, Canna Lilly, Fakahatchee and Muhly grasses.
A second way you can deal with standing water is to create a rain garden. A rain garden is a man-made swale used to collect stormwater runoff where it’s stored and filtered until slowly absorbed by the soil – up to 30% more than a “swale-less” area. It can also help reduce flooding and drainage problems. Take a walk around your landscape to see if there’s a low-lying area that pools water after a few days of nonstop rain. Did you find one? That’s the perfect area for your rain garden.
Now for the fun part – what to plant? Typical rain garden plants include Florida native vegetation or wildflowers, so focus your research on deep-rooted, water-loving plants. A few we like are alocasia, spider lily, calla, and milkweed. And don’t forget those pretty ornamental grasses. Plants like these will rarely need extra watering, plus many attract butterflies and dragonflies. What a nice sustainable drainage solution – and pleasing on the eyes, we might add.
If your Sarasota lawn and landscape are wetter than the nearby swamp, relax and find a way to enjoy the plant diversity available to you. Better yet, call the landscape experts at ArtisTree Landscape Maintenance & Design to discuss the best way to incorporate water-loving plants into your garden. 941.488.8897 — artistree.com.