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Thirsty Plants: Which Plants Absorb Excess Water in a Yard?

June 18, 2020
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It may seem like soggy or wet areas in your yard are off-limits when it comes to planting. It’s true—many plants just can’t thrive in excessively wet soil.

But some plants are built for these conditions. Lots of moisture-loving trees, shrubs, or flowers do a great job of soaking up water.

What plants fit the bill? And, which ones are best for your landscape? Below, check out a shortlist of plants that thrive in wet locations.

Best plants for water runoff

Here’s the situation: you have a spot in your yard, perhaps at the bottom of a hill or in a sunken area, that always has standing water from rain runoff. You want to plant something there that can spruce up the spot and soak in the excess water. What should you pick?

Most importantly, you’ll want to look for plants that are suited for your area. First, find out what your Plant Hardiness Zone is. Then, use the lists below as a starting point for selecting water-thirsty plants that will grow well in your region.

Trees that absorb a lot of water

These are a few trees that soak up water well and can add beauty to a barren spot in your landscape.

  • Red maple (zones 3-9)
  • Weeping willow (zones 6-8)
  • Ash (zones 3-9)
  • Oriental arborvitae (zones 6-11)
  • Black gum (zones 4-9)
  • White cedar (zones 4-8)
  • River birch (zones 3-9)
  • Bald cypress (zones 5-9)

Water absorbing shrubs

Try one of these water-loving shrubs in your yard’s swampy spot.

  • Inkberry (zones 5-9)
  • Button bush (zones 6-9)
  • Summersweet (zones 4-9)
  • Black chokeberry (zones 3-8)
  • American cranberrybush (zones 2-7)
  • Spice bush (zones 4-9)
  • Red twig dogwood (zones 3-8)
  • Blue elderberry (zones 3-10)

Plants that soak up water

These pretty plants are all great for wet soil.

  • Daylily (zones 3-11)
  • Purple coneflower (zones 3-9)
  • Bee balm (zones 4-9)
  • Globeflower (zones 3-7)
  • Golden club (zones 5-10)
  • Japanese iris (zones 4-9)
  • Violet (zones 7-10)
  • Primrose (zones 3-8)

Learn how rain gardens help reduce stormwater runoff

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