Creating a Bog Garden

Bog gardens can be a fascinating addition for children and adults in the home landscape. Carnivorous pitcher plants (Sarracenia), butterworts (Pinquicula), sundews (Drosera), and other colorful and interesting wildflowers can be easily grown in cultured conditions. Many of these wetland plants are fairly small in size and suitable for patio containers or wet garden areas.

The most important element in the location of a bog garden is providing adequate sunlight. Bog plants require full sun for at least six hours a day. In addition, these plants will perform best in a moist, acidic soil with plenty of water during the growing season.

Building a Bog

An easy way to establish bog plants is to take advantage of an existing wet sunny area on your property. Road ditches, gutter runoff areas, pond edges and overflows, muddy areas, and waste treatment systems are often neglected places that could be planted to provide interest.

To build a bog garden on a dry site, dig a shallow area around twelve inches deep and place a quality pond liner along the bottom. Be sure to poke large holes along the sides of the liner to allow the bog garden to drain. Many bog gardeners make the mistake of not providing adequate drainage which can create stagnant water conditions, and the plants will not grow.

For a soil medium, use an 80% coarse peat moss and 20% sharp sand combination. Wet the mixture thoroughly and it will be ready to plant. Bog gardens can also be successfully grown in the shallow areas of small pools and ponds. Place the plants with the top of the container just at or slightly above the water surface.

Container Bogs

Smaller bog gardens can be easily created with containers. Use a container at least eight inches deep and twelve inches wide. Use the same soil mix as described above. Place a saucer underneath the pot and keep filled with water to allow the soil medium to stay moist. Smaller containers are difficult to maintain as they dry easily.

Bog plants are surprisingly easy to grow if provided the correct conditions, and will delight you and your family for years to come. Recommended Bog Plants:
 

COMMON NAME

SCIENTIFIC NAME

FLOWERING

Colic root

Aletris lutea

Yellow summer flowers

Red milkweed

Asclepias lanceolata

Red summer flowers

Swamp sunflower

Helianthus angustifolius

Yellow fall flowers

White-topped sedge

Dichromena colorata

White summer flowers

Lady's hatpin

Eriocaulon decangulare

White summer flowers

Yellow candyroot

Polygala lutea

Yellow summer flowers

Balduina

Balduina uniflora

Yellow summer flowers

Joe-pye

Eupatoriadelphus fistulosus

White fall flowers

Cardinal flower

Lobelia cardinalis

Red fall flowers

Pine hibiscus

Hibiscus aculeatus

White summer flowers

St. John's wort

Hypericum brachyphyllum

Yellow summer flowers

Blazing star

Liatris elegans

Purple fall flowers

Pine lily

Lilium catesbaei

Red summer flowers

Publications may download photo at 200 d.p.i.


These factsheets were written by Robert F. Brzuszek, Assistant Extension Professor, The Department of Landscape Architecture, Mississippi State University.        

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