privacy hedging for soils that are waterlogged in spring/late fall

(Question)

Hi! I am in zone 6b. I need privacy hedging for 2 spring/fall waterlogged areas on my property – one in full sun and the other has some shade. I have found privacy hedging lists but would like some narrowing down on what can tolerate wet feet. I would prefer fast growing for the full sun, shrubs over trees, and native and non-invasive species (I am in southern ontario). My soil is loam as far as I can tell. I was recommended privet by the local nursery for fast growing but research says they are not fans of wet feet…

I really appreciate any input or direction! Thank you kindly!

(Answer)

Hello:

I will answer this question by giving you the names of some native shrubs that are tolerant of wet soil and attract native insects, butterflies and birds. Before doing that, I wanted to say that Eastern White Cedar, Thuja occidentalis, is tolerant of wet conditions. There are cultivars of various sizes and it’s available everywhere, but I know it is more tree-like than perhaps you would like.

1. Buttonbush – Cephalanthus occidentalis

It is a large spreading shrub that grows to 3 m in height. The flowers are white and butterflies love them. The flowers become seedheads in the fall and goldfinches love the seeds. Prefers sun.

2. Black Chokeberry – Aronia melanocarpa

Shrub that grows to 2.5 m high. Flowers are white, purple to black fruits, leaves turn scarlet in autumn. Grows in sun or shade. Beneficial insects are attracted to the flowers, birds eat the berries and berries can be used for juices and jams.

3. Canadian Elderberry – Sambucus canadensis

It grows 2-4 m in height and bears fragrant white flowers in early summer. The fruit is a treat for birds and squirrels in late summer. Elderberry wine can be made from the berries and the flowers can be used for cordial or tea. It grows in sun or shade.

4. Spicebush – Lindera benzoin

This shrub has white flowers and grows in sun or shade. The flowers attract butterflies. The leaves are fragrant and it has red berries in the late summer, eaten by birds and squirrels. It grows quickly and to a height of 3 m.

5. Winterberry – Ilex verticullata

This is a native holly with red berries that stay on the plant in the winter. Male and female plants are separate, so in order to have berries, at least one male plant is required. The berries appeal to robins, in particular. It grows from 1-5 m tall, loses it’s leaves in the winter. The winter branches, with densely packed red berries, are often used for flower arrangements.

I think you will need to go to large nurseries to get some of these, but with the increased interest in native plants, they are available.

I got my information on these plants from various handouts I’ve picked up from the North American Native Plant Society (NANPS) and from the Ontario Trees and Shrubs website. You may want to check these websites out for pictures of the shrubs and more information.

http://ontariotrees.com/main/habitat.php?type=3

http://nanps.org/