Wet Meadow & Wetland Sites Planting Guide

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Pontederia cordata (Pickerelweed) is a key native wetland plant that provides food for aquatic wildlife.

Wet meadow & wetland sites have soils made up of clay and high organic matter with high water tables or impervious layers that prevent drainage. These sites are wet most of the time.

Wet Meadow examples: Roadside ditches, retention basins that catch run-off water, pond areas, or wetland edges. Wetland examples: Newly created wetlands and wetland restoration sites, retention basins with wetland functions, floodplains, pond edges, open water, or wet bioremediation sites.

  • Varies from partial shade to full sun; requires wet or saturated soil, standing water, or a high water table; generally occupied with wetland and wet meadow species

  • Due to the potential for water contamination, lime and fertilizer are not recommended; however, when topsoil has been depleted or removed, we recommend the addition of organic matter (compost). Check soil pH and select species adapted to that pH.

  • Hand seed, broadcast seed, hydroseed, or drill seed when the water table is drawn down. It is not practical to seed any wetland where there is standing water or where severe flooding is likely to occur before germination. The same caution applies to mulching. Natural seed banks (seeds in wetland soils) often establish part of the vegetative cover.

  • Eradicate existing vegetation by having a licensed spray technician apply an approved herbicide, such as glyphosate (Rodeo®), triclopyr (Garlon® 3A), or a similar aquatic herbicide formulation, to control such undesirable vegetation as multiflora rose, honeysuckle, and woody species.

    Wetlands are massive nutrient filters that help clean our nation’s water supply and protect rivers and oceans from pollution.

    CAUTION: Some persistent species, such as purple loosestrife, phragmites, Japanese knotweed, or reed canarygrass, may require multiple applications of glyphosate or triclopyr. Perennial weeds not addressed before establishment will be more difficult to remove later. These sites are often too wet to till. Newly constructed wetlands, retention basins, and wet construction sites should be seeded as soon after construction as possible. Leaving the surface rough by creating mounds and kettles for an undulating microtopography can be very beneficial in obligate wetlands.

  • First Growing Season

    When feasible (the ground isn’t too slippery or mucky to safely walk), post-planting maintenance will provide the best results for wet meadows and wetlands. Whenever canopy height (overall vegetation) reaches 18”-24”, trim the meadow to 8” using a string trimmer. Trimming reduces competition by fast-growing weeds for sunlight and nutrients needed by slower growing perennial natives. Trimming should cease by mid-September.

    Problem weeds should be hand pulled or spot sprayed with an approved aquatic herbicide, such as Rodeo® or Garlon® 3A.

    ERNMX-131 OBL Wetland Mix.

    Second & Subsequent Growing Seasons

    Problem weeds, such as purple loosestrife, phragmites, Japanese knotweed, and reed canarygrass, should be hand pulled or spot sprayed with an approved aquatic herbicide, such as Rodeo® or Garlon® 3A.

Wet Meadow & Wetland Sites Seeds

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DISCLAIMER: The information in this review of practices is the result of more than 50 years of experience in seed production. Ernst Conservation Seeds has been supplying seeds and consulting in the reseeding of tens of thousands of acres of roadsides, surface mined lands, conservation, and restoration sites in eastern North America, as well as growing and supplying seed and consulting in the planting of hundreds of thousands of acres of CRP/CREP-related areas for erosion control and wildlife habitat. All of these practices are opinion only and our best advice as a result of these experiences. These recommendations do not cover all the conditions that will be encountered in the field. All of the information is for individual consideration. Ernst Conservation Seeds is not responsible for conditions that will be encountered in individual situations. The use of brand names does not represent our endorsement of a specific product; rather, it represents our experience only and has not necessarily been replicated in peer-reviewed research. The use of chemical pest control agents is subject to manufacturers’ instructions and labeling, as well as federal, state, and local regulations.
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