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weeds that grow in ditches

Weeds that grow in ditches

I was looking at one of the dozen garden catalogs I get and noticed an add for crownvetch; supposedly a good solution for weedy areas where nothing will grow. They were selling plants in groups of 50. Has anyone ever tried something like that? I’m not sure the plants would handle the moisture, though. Right now there’s standing water in the ditch. It’ll be gone over the summer, but it gets pretty swampy in the spring.

I was thinking of doing the Round-Up thing. I suppose brown/dead weeds are better than live, thriving ones. And better than trying to mow this thing. I’ve thought of lining the ditch with decorative rock, but I have a feeling it would all get swept away pretty easily, and that it would probably get weedy anyhow.

Len, Same here. It must be Prairie Moon day. I have their catalog on my desk since I am ordering some bare root plants today.

The mix my friend gave me is not AT ALL what I would have chosen, but I feel I need to try them out anyway. I don’t have a good place for them either. so maybe mine will get gobbled up by the birds (hopefully). hahaha

Weeds that grow in ditches

Buttonbush, or Cephalanthus occidentalis, grows in moist soil or water, and because of its fondness for water, it is ideally suited to flood-prone areas, ditches or places where poor quality soil causes inadequate drainage. The plant is easily recognized because of its flowers and fruits. Typical native habitats include ditches, thickets and wet woods in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 to 9. The shiny, dark, pointed leaves measure between 3 and 6 inches in length. Flowers consist of white clusters with individual balls that each measure about 1/2 inch in width — or roughly the size of a pingpong ball. It blooms between June and August, after which round, brown fruits appear. Fruits remain on plants from September to October, as they mature into seed pods. Before dropping off the plant in fall, leaves gradually turn yellow.

One of the challenges facing homeowners who have areas on their property where there isn’t adequate drainage is finding plants to use in those areas. For areas where there is poor quality soil with inadequate drainage, the ideal solution is plants that are naturalized for wet, poor draining areas. Many plants that grow in wet ditches are perennials that die back in winter. Rhizomes swell to provide food throughout the winter, allowing new stems to emerge in spring.


Swamp sunflower, also known as narrow-leaf sunflower or Helianthus angustifolius, is a perennial that is ideally suited to clay soil, or poor draining soil that retains water, generally in USDA plant hardiness zones 6 to 9. The plant produces flowers that are 2 to 3 inches in diameter, and the flowers bloom prolifically from early October into November. Since little else blooms at this time of the year, swamp sunflower provides some fall interest to gardens. As a herbaceous perennial, foliage dies back to the ground after the first freeze, and then stems emerge again in spring. Since swamp sunflower is known to attract butterflies, gardeners often include it in perennial beds and/or wildflower gardens.

Marsh Bulrush

Even though Marsh bulrush (Scirpus cyperinus) isn’t a grass, it looks enough like one to warrant the occasional reference as “woolgrass.” It is a close relative of sedge, which is another type of wetland plant that grows in ditches, marshes, ponds and along lake shores. Leaf blades on plants can grow to 3 feet in length, although they only spread to an inch in width. Blades are rough-edged and curl over at the tips. Large flowers are shaggy-looking and reddish-brown in color. Flowers are made up of drooping clusters, each of which has multiple small 1/4- inch-long spikelets. The bloom time lasts from June to September, after which flowers are replaced by fruits that mature to seed pods with a wooly-like appearance. This plant is hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8.