Water-Hungry Plants For Louisiana

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Louisiana landscapes are characterized by plants that thrive in a warm climate with abundant rainfall. Without proper knowledge of which plants are best suited to this type of environment, a novice landscaper could run into trouble with exposure to too much moisture. For garden enthusiasts looking to create lush, vibrant landscapes in Louisiana, selecting plants that absorb water is the best way to go.

If you are looking for gardening tips or landscaping services in the Baton Rouge and Lafayette areas, be sure to stop by Brothers Lawn Service & Landscaping. Now, let's explore 10 water-loving plants that flourish in Louisiana's moisture-rich atmosphere!

Louisiana Iris (Iris spp.)

Example of Louisiana Iris.

The Louisiana iris distinguishes itself as a remarkable water-loving plant, thriving in the marshy wetlands and waterlogged soils of its native habitat. This iris variety has evolved to flourish in areas with consistent moisture, showcasing a unique adaptation that sets it apart in the botanical world. Louisiana irises are often found along the edges of ponds, marshes, and other water bodies, showcasing their affinity for waterlogged environments. These irises typically bloom in spring and early summer, creating a burst of color during this specific period.

Identification Tips

  • Distinctive Leaves: Louisiana iris leaves are long, slender, and sword-shaped, reaching heights of up to three feet.
  • Vibrant Bloom Colors: The Louisiana iris boasts a diverse color palette for its blooms, including shades of purple, blue, yellow, and white.
  • Height & Structure: Louisiana irises exhibit an upright and graceful growth habit, with flowering stems rising above the foliage. 

Yellow Flag (Iris pseudacorus)

Example of Yellow Flag.

Yellow flag emerges as a wetland beauty, gracing the edges of ponds, lakes, and marshes with its vibrant yellow blooms. This perennial iris variety is admired for its striking appearance and ability to thrive in waterlogged soils. The plant features bold, yellow flowers with distinctive brown markings on its falls, creating a visually appealing contrast. The plant grows from rhizomes, which are underground stems that store nutrients. Recognizing its rhizomatous growth habit is important for distinguishing yellow flag from other iris varieties.

Identification Tips

  • Vivid Yellow Flowers: The most prominent feature of yellow flag is its bright yellow flowers, which stand out in wetland environments. 
  • Brown Markings On Falls: The falls, or downward-sloping petals of the flower, bear distinct brown markings. 
  • Sword-Like Leaves: Yellow flag iris has long, sword-like leaves that arise from the base of the plant. 

Swamp Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus)

Example of Swamp Hibiscus.

Swamp hibiscus is all over wetland habitats with its exquisite beauty. This perennial plant, native to North America, is well-adapted to thrive in the damp soils of swamps, marshes, and water edges. Renowned for its striking large flowers and bold foliage, swamp hibiscus adds a touch of elegance to wetland landscapes. The flowers, which can reach sizes of up to a foot in diameter, come in various shades, including hues of pink, red, and white. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, swamp hibiscus plays a vital role in supporting local ecosystems by providing nectar for pollinators and creating habitat for aquatic fauna.

Identification Tips

  • Large Flowers: One of the key features of swamp hibiscus is its impressive, large flowers that can span up to a foot in diameter. 
  • Color Variation: Swamp hibiscus exhibits a range of flower colors, including shades of pink, red, and white. 
  • Palmate Leaves: The leaves of swamp hibiscus are palmately lobed, featuring several distinct lobes radiating from a central point. 

Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

Example of Swamp Milkweed.

Swamp milkweed is a resilient water-loving plant that flourishes in damp habitats. As a member of the milkweed family, this species possesses unique characteristics that cater to its aquatic preferences. The plant's lance-shaped leaves and clusters of pink to mauve-colored flowers contribute to its aesthetic appeal while serving essential ecological functions. Swamp milkweed is particularly popular as a pollinator for monarch butterflies. After flowering, swamp milkweed produces elongated seed pods. The pods are slender and contain numerous seeds, contributing to the plant's reproductive cycle and providing another feature for identification.

Identification Tips

  • Distinctive Leaves: Swamp milkweed features lance-shaped leaves that are arranged oppositely on the stem. 
  • Flower Clusters: The plant produces dense clusters of small, intricate flowers in shades ranging from pink to mauve. 
  • Height & Growth: Swamp milkweed typically grows to a height of 3 to 5 feet, presenting an upright and clump-forming structure. 

Elephant Ear (Colocasia esculenta)

Example of Elephant Ear.

Elephant ear showcases an impressive display of foliage that captivates with their sheer size and tropical allure. Known for its large, heart-shaped leaves resembling the ears of an elephant, this plant is a favorite in gardens and landscapes with a penchant for exotic aesthetics. While many elephant ear varieties feature lush green leaves, some cultivars boast variations in leaf color, including shades of purple, burgundy, or variegated patterns. Elephant ears thrive in warm, humid climates, contributing to their association with tropical environments. These lush, broad leaves can reach remarkable dimensions, making it one of the best plants that absorb water to include in your landscape.

Identification Tips

  • Heart-Shaped Leaves: The most distinctive feature of elephant ear plants is their large, heart-shaped leaves that often resemble the ears of an elephant.
  • Sturdy Stems: Elephant ear plants typically have sturdy, upright stems that support the expansive foliage. 
  • Growth Form: Elephant ears often exhibit a clump-forming growth habit, with multiple stems emerging from a central point. 

Canna Lily (Canna indica)

Example of Canna Lily.

Canna stands as a majestic and versatile plant that graces gardens with its impressive presence. Known for its towering height and vibrant blooms, canna is a favorite among garden enthusiasts seeking a dramatic and tropical aesthetic. Native to the Americas, Africa, and Asia, canna thrives in warm climates and is naturalized to the wetlands of Louisiana. The plant's large, paddle-shaped leaves add a lush backdrop to its show-stopping flowers, which come in a spectrum of colors, including shades of red, orange, yellow, and pink. With its striking appearance and adaptability, canna makes a statement in garden beds, borders, and container plantings.

Identification Tips

  • Tall Stature: Canna plants are characterized by their impressive height, often reaching 4 to 8 feet. 
  • Large Paddle-Shaped Leaves: The leaves of canna are broad and paddle-shaped, creating a tropical ambiance. 
  • Vibrant Flower Colors: Canna produces large and vibrant flowers in a range of colors, including red, orange, yellow, and pink. 

Calla Lily (Zantedeschia spp.)

Example of Calla Lily.

The calla lily exudes an air of elegance with its graceful form and distinctive, unfurling petals. Native to Southern Africa, this perennial plant has become a symbol of sophistication and beauty. The calla lily is characterized by its trumpet-shaped flowers that boast a singular petal, known as a spathe, surrounding a central spadix. While the classic white calla lily is iconic, various cultivars offer an array of colors, including shades of pink, yellow, and even deep burgundy. Calla lilies grow from bulbous rhizomes, which are underground stems that store nutrients.

Identification Tips

  • Trumpet-Shaped Flowers: The most distinctive feature of the calla lily is its unique flower structure, with a single, trumpet-shaped petal called a spathe surrounding a central spadix. 
  • Variety Of Colors: While the classic white calla lily is widely recognized, various cultivars offer a spectrum of colors, including pink, yellow, and burgundy. 
  • Arrow-Shaped Leaves: Calla lily leaves are arrow-shaped and often have a glossy sheen. 

Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)

Example of Marsh Marigold.

Marsh marigold stands as a beacon of golden splendor in the serene landscapes of wetlands in Louisiana. This perennial herb boasts brilliant, buttercup-like flowers that emerge in early spring, creating a vibrant carpet of yellow hues. Marsh marigold's affinity for moist to wet soils makes it a prominent player in water gardens, pond edges, and other aquatic environments. Its heart-shaped leaves and cheerful blooms not only add aesthetic appeal but also provide valuable early-season nectar for pollinators. 

Identification Tips

  • Golden Buttercup-Like Flowers: The most striking feature of marsh marigold is its brilliant, buttercup-like flowers that paint wetland landscapes in shades of vibrant yellow. 
  • Heart-Shaped Leaves: Marsh marigold's leaves are heart-shaped and glossy, adding to the overall charm of the plant. 
  • Clump-Forming Growth: Marsh marigold typically grows in clumps, forming dense colonies in wetland areas. 

Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)

Example of Winterberry.

Winterberry is a deciduous shrub that plays a unique role in winter landscapes. Native to North America, this plant showcases its water-absorbing prowess through its ability to thrive in moist to wet soils. What sets winterberry apart is its remarkable display of vibrant red berries that persist throughout the winter months when many other plants are dormant. These berries, clustered along the branches add a pop of color to the winter scenery and serve as a valuable food source for wildlife. Winterberry is one of the most resilient plants that absorb water, making it an ideal choice for wetland restoration projects.

Identification Tips

  • Bright Red Berries: The most distinctive feature of winterberry is its bright red berries, which persist on the branches throughout the winter. 
  • Deciduous Nature: Winterberry is a deciduous shrub, meaning it sheds its leaves in the fall. The absence of leaves during the winter months allows the vibrant berries to take center stage.
  • Alternate Leaves: The leaves of winterberry are simple and arranged alternately along the stems.

Virginia Willow (Itea virginica)

Example of Virginia Willow.

Virginia willow stands as a resilient water-absorbing plant that graces riparian landscapes with its adaptability and elegance. This shrub has a notable affinity for wet soils and is renowned for its long, cascading white flowers that bloom in late spring to early summer. Beyond its ornamental appeal, this shrub actively contributes to stabilizing soil along water bodies, showcasing its water-absorbing prowess. The lance-shaped leaves and arching branches add to its visual allure and make Virginia willow a favored choice for areas with excessive rainfall, like here in Louisiana.

Identification Tips

  • Cascading Racemes Of White Flowers: Virginia willow is characterized by long, cascading racemes of small, fragrant white flowers. 
  • Lance-Shaped Leaves: The leaves of Virginia willow are lance-shaped and often have serrated edges. 
  • Arching Branches: The shrub typically exhibits an arching growth habit, with branches that gracefully arch outward.