Northern Plants That Need Lots of Water

The northern section of the United States is listed as USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 6. Due to the cold temperatures, many plants will not survive in the north. Northern plants that need lots of water will need to be able to live in marshy conditions and take the bitter cold of the winter. There are some water garden plants for the northern states that can handle the temperature extremes and still look lovely.


The cattail (Typha latifolia) is from the cattail (Typhaceae) family. It is a wet land perennial. Leaves are sword like and 3 to 9 feet tall. Brown flowers are tiny on spikes that look like cat's tails. Plant a cattail in ponds or bogs (they can't dry out and survive) in full sun. Propagate via division of root stocks.

Joe Pye Weed

The joe pye weed (Eupatorium fistulosum) is from the aster/daisy (Asteraceae/Compositae) family. It is a perennial that will attract butterflies. It will get 3 to 10 feet tall with leaves 8 to 12 inches long and lance shaped. Pink or purple flowerheads are in clusters up to 18 inches wide. Plant a joe pye weed in full sun or partial shade in plenty of water. Propagate via root clump division.

Cardinal Flower

The cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) is from the bellflower (Campanulaceae) family. It is a perennial that attracts hummingbirds. Clumps will get 1 to 3 feet tall with purplish stems and red tubular flowers 1 to 2 inches long. Leaves are 5 to 7 inches and elliptical. Plant a cardinal flower in full sun or partial shade in moist soil. Propagate via basal offshoots or by seed.

Obedient Plant

The obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana) is from the mint (Lamiaceae/Labiatae) family. It is a wet area perennial. Leaves are long and narrow, 2 to 6 inches long, with pinkish lavender flowers, 1 inch and tubular, on 2- to 4-foot stalks. Plant an obedient plant in acidic sandy moist loam in sunny or partial shade. Propagate via seed, cuttings, or division.


The comfrey plant (Symphytum officinale) is from the borage (Boraginaceae) family. It is a perennial. It has hairy leaves 10 inches long and pink or violet blooms. It will clump to 5 feet tall. Plant a comfrey plant in full sun or partial shade in rich moist soil. Propagate via spring seed, division, or root cuttings.

Keywords: USDA zones, Water garden plants, Northern Plants

About this Author

Tina Samuels has been a full-time freelance writer for more than 10 years, concentrating on health and gardening topics, and a writer for 20 years. She has written for "Arthritis Today," "Alabama Living," and "Mature Years," as well as online content. She has one book, “A Georgia Native Plant Guide,” offered through Mercer University; others are in development.