9 Plants That Like Wet Feet (Australian Guide)

When soils are constantly wet, there’s a limit to the amount of air pockets that can exist within the structure of the soil. 

If you have an area in your garden that is constantly damp, it can be difficult to find plants that will thrive in those conditions. That’s because most plants prefer well-draining soils.

And, there’s a good reason for this. When soils are constantly wet, there’s a limit to the amount of air pockets that can exist within the structure of the soil. 

This is because any air pockets that might otherwise exist in free-draining soils are filled with water. This means that many plants will simply suffocate because their roots aren’t getting enough air.

However, the good news is that there are some plants that have adapted to live quite happily in constantly wet soils. Here are just a few for you to consider for that damp patch in your garden.

Banksia robur (Swamp Banksia)

Banksia robur Swamp Banksia | Plant varieties
Banksia robur / Photo by Fishinglife2012 / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0

For a dramatic display in a wet spot in your garden, you should consider the swamp banksia. This attractive native has large green leaves with serrated edges. The leaves are russet coloured underneath.

From summer through to winter, this banksia will produce large golden flowers that are loved by nectar-feeding birds. This native shrub will reach a height of 3 metres and a spread of 2 metres.

Bauera rubioides prostrata x sessiliflora ‘Rose Carpet’ (River Rose)

This cultivar has attractive pink small cup-shaped blooms and is somewhat similar to a boronia. It has small slender leaves that are mid-green in colour but the new growth is tinged with bronze.

This makes a great understory plant because it will only reach a height of around 1.5 metres when grown in a shady spot and a width of around 1 metre.

Acacia retinodes (Swamp Wattle)

Acacia retinodes Swamp Wattle | Plant varieties

The swamp wattle will live happily in that damp spot in your garden. It has an attractive weeping form with soft grey-green foliage. The creamy-yellow pompom flowers are profuse in spring but the plant can also flower intermittently throughout the year.

If you prune this wattle annually after its main flush of flowers, you’ll encourage lovely new growth and an abundance of flowers the following year. It can reach a height of 8 metres and a width of around 5 metres.

Callistemon salignus (Willow Bottlebrush)

Callistemon salignus Willow Bottlebrush | Plant varieties

To complement the swamp banksia, you might like to grow a willow bottlebrush. This native Callistemon has a weeping habit and lovely papery bark.

The new growth on this plant is a pinky-red colour and the bottlebrush flowers are creamy-white. These will appear in profusion, especially if you prune the bush after it has finished flowering.

The willow bottlebrush can grow into a tree with a height of 10 metres and a width of 5 metres. However, the growth can be controlled with regular pruning.

Correa nummulariifolia (Roundleaf Correa)

The roundleaf correa has pretty cream-coloured bell-shaped flowers throughout most of the year. It’s native to Tasmania and the coastal areas of Victoria. 

It grows as a low, spreading shrub and will only reach a height of 45 cm. However, it can spread to a width of 1.2 metres. It’s the perfect native groundcover plant for those damp areas in your garden.

Crinum pedunculatum (Swamp Lily)

Crinum pedunculatum Swamp Lily | Plant varieties

The swamp lily has attractive strappy green foliage and the most amazing large flowers on tall stems. The flowers are white and have a soft fragrance. They will appear from August through to January.

These plants make a great alternative to agapanthus as they have a similar growth habit but are not invasive. Each plant will reach a height and width of around 1 metre.

Juncus usitatus (Common Rush)

This native ornamental grass species is perfect for planting in wet areas in your garden. It grows naturally near waterways and doesn’t mind having wet feet.

It has tall arching foliage and produces clusters of seed heads that often tower above the strappy leaves. This species can reach a height of 1.2 metres but will only spread about half a metre.

Leptospermum madidum (Weeping Tea Tree)

You’ll love the soft weeping foliage of this tea tree species. Like many, it’s lemon-scented which adds to the allure of this tree. In spring, the tree will produce small white flowers in profusion.

The weeping tea tree can reach a height of 10 metres and a width of around 6 metres.

Pennisetum alopecuroides (Swamp Fountain Grass)

Pennisetum alopecuroides Swamp Fountain Grass | Plant varieties

This is another native grass species that is rather compact in growth and makes an interesting statement when grown en masse. This makes it ideal for planting along a creek bed or other waterway.

The grass has very fine dark green strappy foliage and attractive foxtail flowers that are cream in colour. It will grow to a height and width of around 1 metre.


Can Grevilleas handle wet feet?

Most grevilleas like well-drained soil and are often quite drought-hardy. However, for a spot that is only damp for short periods of time, you could consider Grevillea baileyana.

Do Pittosporum like wet feet?

Pittosporum generally don’t like wet feet because this stops the roots from being able to take up nutrients from the soil. This will result in the bottom leaves turning yellow and dropping off the plant.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.


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