bog gardenCreating a bog garden creates an environment for a whole new list of plants many of which are very interesting and especially good for getting children involved in gardening. Who is not fascinated with a Venus Flytrap or pitcher plant? Sounds interesting? Here are directions for a very simple bog garden.

Shovel to dig a whole for the bog.
Plastic pool that can be sunk into the ground. The larger it is, the more plants you can have.
A nail or other implement to make small drainage holes in the bottom of the plastic pool.
Enough sphagnum/peat moss and coarse sand to fill the pool. Do NOT use beach sand (too salty) or play sand (too fine). A mixture of peat moss to sand of 3:1 works well also but so does a bog of pure peat moss.
More sand to form a bed for the pool.
Rain water or distilled water. Do Not use tap water because of the mineral and chlorine content unless you have an emergency and then let it sit for 2-3 days before putting into the bog.
Bog plants (specifics to come)

Ten Steps to Making a Bog Garden:
1. Select a sight. Bog plants need at least 5 hours of sun and Pitcher plants appreciate those hours in the afternoon. The bog should be oriented so that you view it primarily from the south and it should be on fairly level ground so that fertilizer, pesticides, and other chemicals do not run into it.
2. Dig a hole the size and shape of your pool.
3. Put a 2-3” layer of sand at the bottom of your hole to form a base for your pool.
4. Punch small holes in the bottom of the pool for drainage.
5. Place the pool into the hole making sure that the edge of the pool extends slight above the edge of the hole.
6. Mix sphagnum and sand together in a ratio of between 1:1 or 3:1 and place the mixture in the pool. Alternatively, fill the whole pool with peat moss. This is a fairly flexible situation. I started with pure peat moss but when I bought my plants was told that they were growing in a mix of equal parts sand and peat moss so I added some sand to the top 6″-8″ of my bog.
7. Wet the contents of the pool. The more peat moss you have the more difficult this will be. The peat moss will hold a large amount of water but it absorbs the water slowly.
8. Let the contents of the pool sit for at least 24 hours. You may have to (slowly) add more water. The bog should be wet but not floating in water. Some people recommend letting the bog sit for as long as a month so that the pH can level out but I only waited a day and had no problem with any of the plants.
9. Plant your bog plants by digging a hole in your bog deep enough to accommodate the full length and width of the root system but make sure the crown is not covered. Place the tall plants in the back on the north side of the bog and the shorter ones towards the south side. You don’t want to have the taller plants shade the shorter ones.
10. Water thoroughly.

Suggestions for bog plants:
Horsetail (Equisetum hyemale)
Louisiana iris (Iris fulva ‘Louisiana Hybrids’
Yellow flag (Iris pseudacornus) Try a dwarf variety such as
Blue Flag (Iris versicolor)

Pitcher plant (Sarracenia  purpurea)
Corkscrew rush Juncus effuses spiralis

Low Growing
Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula)
Sundew (Drosera sp. any species you can find)
Creeping Jenny (or Golden Creeping Jenny) Lysimachia nummularia (aurea) (Either of these is very good at the edge of the bog as they will grow both in the bog and out side the bog covering up the edge of the plastic pool.

My bog is small and can only accommodate the plants I have listed above. There are many other plants suitable for a bog such as miniature papyrus, many cannas, calla lilies, miniature cattails, rushes, and sedges. When you visit a plant store check the labels on the plants for their suitability in a bog. If the plant likes or can tolerate “wet feet” it is a good candidate for a bog.

Water your bog regularly so that it never dries out.
If you live in an area north of zone 7 mulch your bog in December with pine needles or oak leaves, removing the mulch in February or March when temperatures are regularly above 32 F.
Do not feed your carnivorous plants; they will get what they need naturally.
NEVER fertilize your bog.

By Karen

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4 thoughts on “Ten Steps to Making a Bog Garden”
  1. Hello, Karen. Very interesting instructions on bogs. One comment: I am certain that Iris fulva is hardy farther north than Zone 7. It occurs in the wild in Ohio and Illinois, so that places it naturally in Zone 5. The Louisiana irises do grow farther north than that. There is a very successful public planting in Rochester, NY. I am preparing a series of pages with pictures of that garden that I will add to my website soon.

    I am going to add a link to your bog instructions on the culture pages of my website.



  2. Hey Patrick,
    Thanks for your comment about the zones in which I. fulva can be grown. I am always hesitant to recommend a plant to an area unless I am sure that it will grow there and I had some difficulty nailing down the zones for I. fulva. I have done more research since your comment and have changed my post. Do I. fulva plants need winter protection in zone 5? This is a great plant and I wish more nurseries would carry it and more gardeners would grow it so please give me any info I could use to increase its popularity.


    1. Patrick,
      I am sure you are right about mulching but here in our zone 7 garden in central North Carolina we have had no problem without mulch even in the cold winter of ’09. The pitcher plants are quite attractive for much of the year and we enjoy them well into the winter, hence we don’t mulch. Our Venus fly traps made it through the winter but then died in the spring due to a deer visit and something later in the summer we have not identified.

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