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Rain Gardening
at the Kemper Center for Home Gardening

Rain Garden Plants

Center Plants
Achillea ‘Red Beauty
Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’
Amsonia hubrichtii
Amsonia montana ‘Short Stack’
Aster oolentaginensis
Baptisia sphaerocarpa
Carex ‘Ice Dance’
Coreopsis x ‘Jethro Tull’
Echinacea purpurea ‘Vintage Wine’
Geranium x ‘Rozanne’
Gaura ‘Siskyou Pink’
Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Piglet’
Hibiscus x ‘Fantasia’
Juncus effusus
Liatris pycnostachys
Lobelia siphilitica
Monarda fistulosa
Porteranthus trifoliatus ‘Pink Profusion’
Phystostegia ‘Miss Manners’
Rudbeckia fulgida
Rudbeckia missouriensis
Salvia nemorosa ‘Sensation Rose’
Scutellaria incana

Edge Plants
Asclepias tuberosa
Aster laevis
Carex stricta
Centranthus ruber

Dianthus ‘Firewitch’
Eryngium yuccifolium
Heuchera ‘Purple Petticoats’
Heuchera ‘Rave On’
Gaura ‘Siskyou Pink’
Monarda bradburiana
Nepeta ‘Candy Cat’
Oenothera macrocarpa
Stachys ‘Hummelo’

Learn More
Take the Native Plant School class on rain gardens offered at the Shaw Nature Reserve.

Pick up the Missouri Department of Conservation’s brochure “Native Plant Rain Gardens,” available through their GrowNative! program.

Visit the new Show-Me Rain Garden Initiative, a program of the Soil and Water Conservation District of St. Louis County in collaboration with the Metropolitan Sewer District, Missouri Botanical Garden, Shaw Nature Reserve, educational institutions, and various corporate and private citizens. Learn more.

When a storm dumps buckets of rain, the landscape can become flooded with most of the water running into the storm sewer from rooftops, driveways, and steep hillsides. A rain garden can be designed to capture this runoff, retain it for re-absorption into the soil, and slow its migration to rivers and streams.

An example of a residential rain garden is now installed on the north side of the William T. Kemper Center for Home Gardening. This is a perfect spot for a rain garden, says the Center’s manager, Dr. Steve Cline. “The east and north landscape of the Kemper Center, including parts of the Doris I. Schnuck Children’s Garden, drain large quantities of water into storm drains, so much so that we had to install two drains to handle the flow. With the installation of this rain garden, we expect to capture a significant amount of this water and channel it back into the soil.” This redirection not only spares the storm drains, but will “recharge” the soil profile where plants will find it during drought periods.

Kemper Center
The Kemper Center's rain garden is designed to capture runoff from rain water

In selecting plants compatible for rain gardens, choices are surprisingly many. Rain garden plants need to be tolerant of both wet and dry conditions, since the design of the rain garden is around the idea that the water will come and go within a 24-to-48 hour period. A little over 30 plants, both native and ornamental, were selected for the Kemper Center rain garden, including a half dozen Plants of Merit™ like the variegated sedge, Carex ‘Ice Dance’ and spikey plumed rush, Juncus effusus.

“There is no need to think of a rain garden as strictly a functional part of a landscape aimed to control water alone,” says June Hutson, Kemper Garden outdoor horticulture supervisor. “Our rain garden contains many flowering plants that perform in spring, summer, and fall.” Visitors will enjoy asters, coneflowers, bee balm, salvia, blazing star, and tickseed, to name just a few.

Flower performance, leaf color, and texture will be contrasted to show the possibilities for creating a wildlife habitat and viewing pleasure in the home landscape, all while capturing storm-water runoff.

Kemper Center
Residential rain pond garden