Many gardens have ponds, streams or water features surrounded by damp or boggy soil conditions. In some areas, soils are just poorly drained and may remain damp for long periods when the water table is high. Only a select range of plants can grow in these conditions. Many plants rot or “drown” due to waterlogged soils.

These are few of the plants that can grow in these testing soil conditions in KwaZulu-Natal. Some are aquatics that can grow in water of suitable depth.

Annuals and perennials (low growing)

Key: (E) = evergreen (D) = deciduous (I) = indigenous (F) = fruit (S) = seed (C) = climber (T) = thorns

Acorus gramineus all cultivars (Japanese flag) (E)
Aristea ecklonii (blue stars) (E) (I)
Astilbe arendsii Hybrids (goat’s beard) (D)
Canna Hybrids (canna) (D)
Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’ (variegated sedge) (E)
Colocasia antiquorum (elephant’s ear) (D)
Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic’ (black elephant’s ear) (D)
Crinum bulbispermum (Orange river lily) (D) (I) (B)
Crinum macowanii (river lily) (D) (I) (B)
Crocosmia aurea (falling stars) (D) (I) (B
Cyperus alternifolius (sedge) (E) (I)
Cyperus papyrus (Egyptian paper plant) (E) (I)
Cyperus prolifer (dwarf papyrus) (E) (I)
Dietes grandiflora (large wild iris) (E) (I)
Dietes iridiodes (small wild iris) (E) (I)
Dianella tasmanica ‘Variegata’ (blueberry) (E)
Dierama pendula (harebell) (D) (I) (B)
Dissotis canescens and princeps (wild tibouchina) (E) (I)
Elegia (Chondropetalum) tectorum (thatching reed) (E) (I)
Elegia capensis (fountain reed) (E) (I)
Galtonia candicans (common Berg lily) (D) (I) (B)
Gomphostigma virgatum (river stars) (E) (I)
Gunnera mannicata (giant ornamental rhubarb) (D)
Gunnera perpensa (wild rhubarb) (D) (I)
Hesperantha coccinea (scarlet river lily) (D) (I) (B)
Iris Louisiana Hybrids (water iris) (D)
Isolepis cernua (fiber optic grass) (E) (I)
Juncus krausii (matting rush) (E) (I)
Kniphofia linearifolia (marsh poker) (D) (I)
Kniphofia pauciflora (dainty poker) (D) (I)
Kniphofia uvaria hybrids (red hot poker) (D) (I)
Lobelia cardinalis (cardinal flower) (D)
Mentha in variety (mint) (ED)
Neomarica caerulea (Brasil iris) (E)
Phormium tenax in variety (New Zealnd flax) (E)
Rumorha adiantiformis (Knysna fern) (E) (I)
Scirpus ficinoides (rush) (E) (I)
Soleirolia soleirolii (peace in the home) (E)
Spathiphyllum walisii (peace lily or white sails) (E)
Thalia dealbata (water canna) (D)
Tradescantia virginiana (spiderwort) (D)
Typha capensis (bull rush) (E) (I)
Wachendorfia thyrsiflora (wachendorfia) (E) (I)
Zantedeschia aethiopica (common or white arum lily) (ED) (I)

 Shrubs and climbers (medium to tall growing)

Key: (E) = evergreen (D) = deciduous (I) = indigenous (F) = fruit (S) = seed (C) = climber (T) = thorns

Chaenomeles japonica (flowering quince) (D) (T)
Cyathea australis (Australian tree fern) (E)
Cyathea dregei (tree fern) (D) (I)
Ligustrum ibota (small leaf privet) (E)
Phygelius aequalis hybrids (wild fuchsia) (E) (I)
Phyllostachys nigra (black bamboo) (ED) – Note: many bamboo species grow in damp soil but can spread and become out of hand
Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Aureus’ (ninebark) (D)
Salix caprea (pussy willow) (D)
Sambucus nigra cultivars (elderberry) (D)
Viburnum opulus ‘Roseum’ (Japanese snowball) (D)

Trees (tall growing)

Key: (E) = evergreen (D) = deciduous (I) = indigenous (F) = fruit (S) = seed (C) = climber (T) = thorns

Barringtonia racemosa (powder-puff tree) (ED) (I)
Betula pendula (silver birch) (D)
Combretum erythrophyllum (river bush willow) (D) (I)
Ficus sur (Cape wild fig) (ED) (I)
Ficus sycamorus (sycamore fig) (ED) (I)
Ficus trichopoda (swamp fig) (E) (I)
Hibiscus tiliaceus (wild cotton tree) (E) (I)
Liquidambar styraciflua (sweet gum) (D)
Macaranga capensis (wild poplar) (D) (I)
Magnoila grandiflora (bull bay) (E)
Nuxia floribunda (forest elder) (E) (I)
Phoenix reclinata (wild date palm) (E) (I) (T)
Populus simonii ‘Fastigiata’ (slender poplar) (D)
Quercus palustris (pin oak) (D)
Raphia australis (Kosi palm) (E) (I)
Rauvolfia caffra (quinine tree) (D) (I)
Salix mucronata (Saf Saf willow) (D) (I)
Syzygium cordatum (water berry or Umdoni tree) (E) (I)
Tabernaemontana ventricosa (forest toad tree) (E) (I)
Taxodium distichum (swamp cypress) (D)
Trema orientalis (pigeon wood) (D) (I)
Vachellia (Acacia) karroo (sweet thorn) (D) (I) (T)
Vachellia (Acacia) xanthophloea (fever tree) (D) (I) (T)
Vocanga thouarsii (wild frangipani) (E) (I)

Key: (E) = evergreen (D) = deciduous (I) = indigenous (F) = fruit (S) = seed (C) = climber (T) = thorns


Whilst every care and caution has been taken in compiling these lists in terms of correctness and accuracy, Blackwood’s, nor any of their employees can be held liable or responsible if any of the recommendations are found to be incorrect in any way whatsoever. They are merely a guide to help gardeners and staff in finding solutions to gardening problems. All plants listed may not be available for sale at times. They do however all grow in the greater KwaZulu-Natal area and are to be found growing successfully in local gardens.