Shrubs That Tolerate Soggy Soils

Soggy soil has been the death knell for many a garden. Constantly moist or wet conditions, such as near a pond or in a poorly draining area, can be a challenge. Amending the soil or improving the drainage sometimes is not a possibility or something you desire. But there are some shrubs that actually prefer "wet feet" and will happily grow and bloom for many years.


Bayberry (Morella pensylvanica) will grow in almost any condition, including soggy soil or heavy clay. It's even salt-tolerant, which makes it an excellent choice for a seaside or northern roadside location. The bayberry grows 6 to 12 feet tall, with dark-green, aromatic foliage. You'll need both a male and female plant to get the bayberry's famous waxy berries, which are used to make candles. Bayberry is hardy in USDA zones 3 to 7.

Swamp Azalea

Swamp azalea (Rhododendron viscosum) will brighten up your garden in the summer with its white or pink flowers. The blooms, which have a spicy clove fragrance, are favorites of hummingbirds. The deciduous swamp azalea, which grows to 3 to 8 feet tall, prefers to grow in moist to wet soil. It is hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9.

Winterberry Holly

Winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata) has glorious red berries that last through the winter. The deciduous winterberry loves soggy soil, making it ideal for planting near a pond. You'll need both the male and female bushes if you want the berries. According to the Connecticut Botanical Society, one male is enough for six females. Winterberry grows 6 to 10 feet tall in USDA zones 4 to 9.

Keywords: shrubs in wet soil, soggy garden soil, choosing shrubs

About this Author

Aileen Clarkson has been an award-winning editor and reporter for more than 20 years. Clarkson graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in journalism. She has worked for several newspapers, including "The Washington Post" and "The Charlotte Observer."