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Water Absorbing Plants for Your Yard

The best water-absorbing plants for the yard are useful if your area floods easily or if you happen to have a spot that just doesn’t dry out too well. These trees, shrubs, and plants love moisture-rich soil and will be of tremendous help for those places in the landscape prone to poor drainage.

These water-absorbing plants are also excellent if you plan to construct a rain garden.

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Thirsty Plants That Help Absorb Plenty of Water

Thirsty plants that help absorb plenty of water

Rainfall that pours over the ground surface is known as stormwater runoff. Trees and forests minimize rainwater runoff by absorbing and collecting rain in their canopy and slowly bringing it into the sky via evapotranspiration. Furthermore, root systems and leaf litter generate soil conditions that allow precipitation to infiltrate into the soil.

If you have a section of your landscape that seems to collect stormwater runoff consistently, the area will benefit from having water-absorbing plants installed. You can often find such spots at the base of a sloping area or in a depressed zone, and it would be helpful to place plants in those areas to tidy up the site while also soaking up the extra water.

Each home, company, and public place adds some pollutants to runoff. As landowners, we can help by keeping contaminants out of stormwater runoff and minimizing the quantity of water that runs off our land.

Plants are nature’s water filters and have been cleaning the earth’s water since the beginning of the planet. We need to take advantage of the incredible power of plants to filter our water by adding more and more lush green plants to our landscapes whenever possible. That wet spot in the backyard is the perfect spot for a few water-absorbing plants.

Shrubs That Like Being Hydrated

Take advantage of these water-loving shrubs to build a visually stunning landscape that does not suffer from water runoff problems.

American cranberrybush (zones 2-7)

Superior National Forest, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Viburnum trilobum is a tall, leggy, weakly branching native bush that competes with other shrubberies in forested, typically wet environments. 

American cranberrybush can take on a fully branched, thick shape. It’s got stunning orange-red fall foliage and vibrant red fruits. 

Buttonbush (zones 6-9)


Buttonbush is an excellent plant you can rely on to beautify wet areas. Aside from its pretty, scented, white flowers, you’ll also like its attractiveness to birds and butterflies.

As buttonbush never survives drought, it will require more watering in brightly sunlit places that could run dry. This makes it a perfect water-absorbing plant for the yard.

Blue elderberry (zones 3-10)

Blue Elderberry

Elderberries have been eaten for sustenance in Europe and the United States for centuries, and they were also well-used for their health benefits in ancient Greece and Rome.

Blue elderberry is among the most resilient plants, for it survives in many types of environments: full sun, partial shade, and full shade. The best fact about it is that it will be fine with stagnant water during the winter dormancy.

Black chokeberry (zones 3-8)

Black Chokeberry

The Chokeberry grows well in wetlands and partially dry soil. However, its ideal growing condition is in damp, well-drained settings. Since Chokeberry gets additional rain through runoff, it is an excellent rain garden plant. 

The Black Chokeberry benefits the ecosystem by supplying berries for wildlife to consume and refuge and nesting spaces for tiny creatures. Meanwhile, its blooms are excellent food sources for pollinators.

Pussy Willow (zones 4-8)

Pussy Willow

Throughout its distribution, pussy willow grows near rivers, coastal areas, swamp edges, and the low-lying regions of water-logged brambles, fields, sloughs, and woodland open spaces. Thus, it will certainly absorb any excess moisture that comes its way.

Pussy willow is a native plant that prefers moist soil and will develop deep taproots that consume a lot of water. As a result, it’s a great plant to put in a rain garden or anywhere else that gets wet after copious amounts of rainfall. It doesn’t need acidic soil.

Trees That Thrive With Lots Of Water

Weeping Willow (zones 4-9)

Weeping Willow

The weeping willow tree has long been a staple of the moist banks of rivers and ponds, and this is a fast-growing tree that thrives in moist soils.

Bald cypress (zones 5-9)

Bald Cypress

Taxodium distichum likes being in wet places. This tree will be stunning as a specimen tree for areas with moisture-rich soil. However, that’s not to say it’s not adaptable; it can also survive in drier conditions.

Black gum (zones 4-9)

Black Gum

Nyssa sylvatica’s affinity to moisture makes it a very attractive choice for lowland gardens. This plant with beautiful red/orange fall foliage is extremely important to wetland fauna. Its white blossoms are an important source of honey for pollinators, and its fleshy fruits supply nourishment to wildlife.

Red maple (zones 3-9)

Red Maple

Acer rubrum is most recognized for its spectacular autumn show of colorful foliage. Red maple trees may be productive rainwater absorbers in several habitats because they tolerate a wide range of soil types. Yet, it prefers wet, mildly acidic, rich soil. A single red maple tree may consume up to 10 gallons of water per week.

River birch (zones 4-9)

SEWilco, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Betula nigra thrives in wet regions like swamps, ponds, and river valleys. It’s also known as water birch since its roots can withstand being planted in a water source or a moderately aquatic environment. If you have a yard with less-than-ideal drainage, the river birch tree will thrive in the constant wetness.

Water-Absorbing Plants 

Primrose (zones 3-8)


At the beginning of spring, you’ll see Primula vulgaris, a plant that forms a cluster of tongue-shaped foliage, blooming numerous perfumed, typically yellow flowers.

Waterways, shrubbery, and open, humid, deciduous woods are the most common places to find primrose.

Daylilies (zones 4-9)


These flowers are attractive, low-maintenance, and incredibly resilient. They do well in the absence of human intervention. Because they soak up lots of water, you must give them plenty of moisture. Or place them in damp sites in the landscape.

Swamp hibiscus (zones 7-10)

Swamp Hibiscus

Hibiscus coccineus is a woody deciduous perennial thriving in a sunny location with healthy, damp, or wet soil. It’s an attractive choice for rainy places and rain gardens, but it’ll also flourish in scenic plantings with moist soil.

Japanese iris (zones 4-9)

Japanese Iris

Iris laevigata is already a low-maintenance perennial, but its preferred environment is wet.

It’s nice to position the Japanese iris close to the edge of a standing water source. The roots may grow in moist, acidic, rich soil, although they don’t like their roots to be submerged in water in the winter.

Globeflower (zones 3-7)


Trollius sp. is endemic to the northern hemisphere. This plant thrives in humid (or wet) environments with colder temperatures and dappled shade. They can withstand quite a bit of dirt, even clay). 

Globeflower gets its name from its distinctively spherical buds, which can add a splash of warm color to your landscape with dazzling yellow and orange shades.

Leopard Plant (zones 7-10)

Leopard plant

Farfugium grows well in moderate sunlight exposure to complete shade and loves damp, rich soil. It isn’t picky about pH. In our hot environment, the excessive sun can cause it to wilt, so it’s better to stay safe by giving it some shade. 

Farfugium is adaptable to different soil types, but it needs constant hydration and can die if left to dry out.

Ferns (zones 2-10)


Several types of ferns can withstand high levels of wetness in the soil, and you can place them near ponds or in moist environments. Like the Christmas fern, certain ferns require shaded and dry conditions to grow. 

Cattails (zones 3-10)


Aside from being fun to bite, Cattails are helpful yard plants if you need to deal with excess moisture. They are tall and have long leaves and “hotdog-on-a-stick” flowers, and you’ll usually see them in marshy areas.

Since cattails aggressively enjoy the water, they grow near ponds, marshes, and other wet environments. They are so good at what they do that it might be difficult to keep them under control.

Bee balm (zones 4-9)

Bee Balm

Monarda likes well-draining, damp soil. This stunning flowering plant is excellent for attracting bees (hence the name), butterflies, and birds. 

During the growth season, bee balms like a steady intake of water.

French rose (zones 3-8)

French Rose

Gallica roses are thorny bushes with pale, grey-green leaves and little groups of scented single to double blooms. It thrives in direct sunlight with nutrient-rich soil that is damp yet well-drained. It’s a good choice for hedging.

Perhaps Rosa gallica is the most exquisite, water-loving flowering plant. Its bright pink flowers scream romantic appeal.

What Is a Rain Garden?

Rain falling on a garden

Rain gardens are small, man-made depressions filled with plants (usually the plants mentioned earlier in the previous sections). They are placed in strategic locations to collect rainwater runoff from hard surfaces (like a driveway, roof, parking lot, sidewalk, or roadway). 

Right after a storm, rain gardens collect a few inches of water. Instead of rushing off to the road or drainage structures, this water seeps into the surrounding soil.

The Advantages of Having a Rain Garden for Dealing with Water Runoff

If water runoff is a problem, you will benefit from a rain garden. Many beautiful plants will improve your yard’s aesthetic appeal and add functionality by helping with water absorption.

Aside from that, a rain garden also:

  • eliminates any standing water from your lawn,
  • cuts down the number of mosquitos that breed,
  • minimizes the risk of flooding on your property,
  • establishes an environment for birds and butterflies to live in, and
  • filters out pollutants from runoff.