Four Ornamental Shrubs That Will Tolerate Spring Flooding

Posted on: 28 January 2015

If your garden beds flood every spring, and building up the soil levels has not made much of a difference, you don't have to do without shrubs. You just have to choose shrubs that can tolerate this flooding. Here's a look at four ornamental shrubs that will add a splash of greenery to your garden bed, and won't drown when water levels rise in the springtime.

Red Chokeberry

Red chokeberry bushes are tolerant of wet soils. In fact, they handle any sort of stress—ranging from drought to flooding—quite well. These bushes reach about 8 feet tall and are shaped like small trees, having a rounded appearance. Having them pruned each spring will help maintain this shape. Red chokeberries are named for their small red fruits, which may attract wildlife to your backyard. Each spring, the bushes become covered in little white flowers.

Gray Dogwood

There are many types of dogwood bushes, but few are as flood-tolerant as gray dogwood. They're also tolerant of air pollution, making them a good choice for urban areas. This is a rather large shrub—it can reach 15 feet tall when mature. Regular pruning or tree trimming is not necessarily required, but will help keep gray dogwood bushes smaller. In late spring to early summer, the bushes develop clusters of white flowers.


Summersweet naturally grows in swamps, so a little spring flooding won't phase it a bit. This is a smaller shrub, which only reaches between 3 and 8 feet in height. It can easily be used to form hedges, although it looks nice as a stand-alone plant, too. Summersweet tolerates full shade, but will grow in partial sunlight, too. Prune a summersweet bush in late winter to encourage more white blossoms to appear in the spring.

Spice Bush

Spice bush will grow in most any conditions, from flooded soils to heavy shade. It even tolerates periods of drought. Known for its yellow-green flowers, which appear in early spring, spice bushes reach between 6 and 12 feet in height and form compact hedges. They are named for their aromatic leaves, which will give off a spicy scent in the evenings or when crushed between your fingers.

It's often easier to plant shrubs that tolerate your existing garden conditions than it is to amend your garden, especially when your garden floods due to heavy rain. Plant one of the shrubs above, and you'll enjoy greenery without the headache of drowning plants.


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