Davey Tree offers many of the same recommendations for flood tolerant trees in its blog, with the addition of thornless honey-locust (Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis), appropriate for zones 3-9. Davey also makes suggestions for flood-tolerant shrubs. These include:
- Winterberry bush (Ilex verticillate) 3-9
- Red-osier dogwood (Cornus sericea) 2-7
- Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica) 3-7
- Swamp azalea (Rhododendron viscosum) 4-8
- Sweetspire/Virginia willow (Itea virginica) 5-10
Worst of Both Worlds: Wet & Dry
Of course, not all areas are consistently wet, or consistently dry. Many regions experience periods of extreme rain and long, hot, dry weeks. The blog of Green Prism Consulting, a tree care company in Gainesville, GA, says that with more drastic climate extremes, it can be smart to choose plant varieties that fall not just within your plant zone, but extend a bit further to accommodate a wider range of conditions. According to Green Prism, black gum/tupelo trees, as well as swamp white oaks, while listed for their flood tolerance, can also handle at least a moderate drought tolerance. Nuttall oak (Quercus texana), zone 6-8, is also listed in this category.
Ornamentals that make this desirable wet and dry list from Green Prism include:
- Coppertina ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Mindia’) 3-8
- Eastern sweetshrub (Calycanthus fl oridus) 4-9
- Possumhaw viburnum (Viburnum nudum) 5-9
- Pink muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) 7-11
- Blazing star (Liatris spicata) 3-9
- Red switchgrass (Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’ 5-9
Stan Wilson, general manager of Austin, TX-based Environmental Survey Consulting (ESC), says in his blog how Central Texas and the Southwest have experienced both extended drought and historical flooding in the past years, resulting in altered landscape conditions. He says ESC has found a few plants in both their residential landscapes and ecological restoration with “strong future” status in response to unpredictable weather extremes. Some examples below:
- Tropical sage (Salvia coccinea) (9-10; will reseed 6-8)
- Frogfruit (Phyla nodifl ora) 6-11
- Big muhly (Muhlhenbergia lindherimeri) 6-10
- Bushy blustem (Andropogon glomeratus) 5-9
- Horsetail (Equisetum hyemale) 4-9
- Roughleaf dogwood (Cornus drummondii) 4-9
With the many climate zones within the U.S., areas differ in their ability to support different plant species without the need for supplemental water. The Outdoor section of EPA’s Water Sense initiative offers helpful tips on irrigation, landscaping, and has links to native plant lists for every state (some states have multiple entries). You can access the native plants list for your state here.
This article originally ran in the June 2022 issue of Turf.
Menapace is editorial director of Turf. An avid gardener and nature enthusiast, she has worked as a plant nursery professional, a Park System naturalist, and floral designer. She has been a professional writer for over 30 years and escapes from her desk to hike or garden every chance she gets.
Do you have a comment? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below, or send an e-mail to the Editor at email@example.com.