Q: I live on Lake Nottely. Each year the lake level is drawn down 20 feet, which exposes a large area of muddy bank. Is there any plant that could survive being covered with water part of the year and still grow and hold the bank against erosion when it is exposed?
A: Have you considered growing rice? No, seriously, you are faced with an almost impossible situation. Aquatic plants need constant immersion —they will die if the bank is exposed. Terrestrial plants will suffer root rot if they are underwater for more than a few days. There are bog plants that might adapt to your site. At the top of your bank, experiment with yellow flag iris (Iris pseudacorus), Japanese iris (Iris ensata) or sweet flag (Iris acorus). One shrub that might do well in a marshy spot is Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica). Liriope is reputed to grow underwater. Try some spreading monkey grass (Liriope spicata) in the flooded area to see if it can survive through the year.
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