Plant suggestions for your rain garden

Last week in this column, I suggested creating a wetland in your yard to capture the rain and practice effective water conservation. If you’ve been inspired by wetland planning, you may look forward to the fun of choosing the plants that characterize this garden.

So this week’s Real Dirt is a list of plants that are suitable for the types of wetlands described in the previous article. This is not an exhaustive list, but it provides a solid start for anyone starting such a project. Most of the species proposed here are , is a native of California adapted to those conditions. Other Mediterranean climate species are also good bets. By design, bogs have varying zones of moisture, from waterlogged bottoms to dry upper banks, so they can meet the moisture requirements of a myriad of species (which is why our list is necessarily redundant). That’s one of the reasons it’s perfect).

“The Real Dirt” is a column by various local master gardeners who are members of Butte County’s UC Master Gardeners.

Be aware that in our unforgiving summers, even drought-tolerant native plants will require additional irrigation while they are established. A regular drip irrigation line will improve survival.

Cool-season grasses and herbs that line grassy marshes and the banks of Rock Creek:

Sedge (Sedge species) and rush (Yuncus species) sun

  • Yerba buena (Clinopidium douglasii) for partial shade

Larger grass with strong roots:

  • Deer grass (Muhlenbergia patens)
  • Native fescue (Festuca californica, F. idahoensis, F. rubrica)
  • Creeping Wild Rye (Leymus triticoides)

Perennials that tolerate wet winters and dry summers:

  • Douglas Iris (Iris douglasii)
  • California Fuchsia (Epilobium canum)
  • Prostate Manzanita (Arctostaphylos grape bear)
  • Buckwheat (Eriogonum species)
  • Daisies (Erigeron species)
  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
  • Common Monkey Flower/aka Sticky Monkey (Mimulus aurantiacus)
  • Yellow Monkey Flower/aka Penetrant Mimulus (Mimulus guttatus)
  • California Cornflower (Rudbeckia californica)
  • Hummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea) and other salvia species

drought-tolerant fern for shade

  • Polypodycida (Polypodium californicum)
  • western sword fern
  • Wood Fern (Dryopteris arguta)

Shrubs and small trees for embankments

  • Hybrid Rockrose (Cistus skanbergii)
  • Barberry (Berberis aka Mahonia pinnata)
  • Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia)
  • California Coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica)
  • gooseberry
  • Woodrose (Rosa gymnocarpa)
  • Saint Catherine’s Lace (Eriogonum giganteum)
  • Redbud (Western cherry)
  • Mountain Mahogany (Cercocarpus betuloides)
  • Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus sericea)
  • ceanosus species
  • Manzanitas (Arctostaphylos sp.)

UC Master Gardeners in Butte County are part of the University of California Cooperative Extension System and serve their communities in a variety of ways including 4-H, farm advisors, nutrition and physical activity programs. For more information about UCCE Butte County Master Gardeners and help with gardening in the area, visit If you have any gardening questions or problems, please call the hotline at 538-7201 or email

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