Here are some good native plants for your rain garden

Joe Pye Weed Chocolate in Buffalo rain garden
Joe Pye Weed, Chocolate

by Connie Oswald Stofko

Native plants and flowers are strongly recommended for your rain garden because these plants have the greatest chance of growth and survival in Western New York. Using native plants also means low maintenance– you won’t need to water.

Last week, we discussed building a rain garden and how rain gardens help keep our water clean. We showed you the rain garden at the Crane Branch Library in Buffalo, and we promised more information on  plants for a rain garden.

Here are the plants chosen for the Crane Branch Library rain garden by Dave Majewski, owner of Premium Services Inc., who designed, engineered, coordinated and built that rain garden:

Red Flame Willow in Buffalo rain garden
Red Flame Willow
  • Joe Pye Weed or Eupatorium. The variety is “chocolate” (although it looks more purple than brown).
  • Red flame willow.
  • Serviceberry. If you want to attract birds, this tree is a good choice because it attracts cedar waxwings.
  • Switchgrass or Panicum virgatum.
  • Grey dogwood.
  • Heliopsis, a dainty yellow flower also known as false sunflower.Serviceberry in Buffalo rain garden

Other native plants recommended for rain gardens by Buffalo Niagara Riverkeepers include:

Full Sun

  • Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnate)
  • Little Blue Stem (Andropogon Scoparius)
  • Side Oats Grama (Bouteloua curtipendula)
  • Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata)
  • Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii)
  • Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
  • Wild Senna (Senna hebecarpa)
  • Wild Blue Lupine (Lupinus perennis)
  • Beard Tongue (Penstemon digitalis)
  • Smooth Blue Aster (aster laevis)

    Switchgrass in Buffalo rain garden

Partial Shade

  • Blue lobelia (Lobelia syphilitica)
  • Silky Wild Rye (Elymus villosus)
  • Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans)
  • Wild Blue False Indigo (Baptisia australis)


Trees and Shrubs

Grey Dogwood in Buffalo rain garden

  • Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
  • Silky dogwood (Cornus amomum)
  • Winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata)
  • American elderberry (Sambucus Canadensis)
  • Arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum)

5 Comments on “Here are some good native plants for your rain garden

  1. Do you have any landscapers you recommend to install a rain garden? Everyone I talked to just wants to dig drainage pipes.

  2. I’m wondering if you could recommend a location we could purchase rain garden-specific plants. I have been having trouble obtaining any of them, beyond purple coneflower.

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