Plants That Absorb Standing Water

Written by justintomlinson
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Plants That Absorb Standing Water
A weeping willow tree. (weeping willow image by Edsweb from

All trees have limits to the amount of water they can absorb. Specific varieties, however, are particularly well-suited to swampy environments and can survive for extended periods with wet roots and have higher-than-average water needs. Trees best equipped for this environment have strong, woody trunks and are tall enough to survive flash flooding or inundation during a storm. Many tree varieties commonly used in residential landscaping fit the criteria for growing in wet, low-lying areas.

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Weeping Willow

The weeping willow tree, named for its characteristic silver-grey hanging foliage, grows in USDA Hardiness Zones four through nine. High water needs and a tolerance for standing water mean this tree thrives near rivers and in swampy places, making it ideal for low-lying areas prone to puddling in heavy rains. Weeping willows reach heights of over 40 feet and have an extremely long lifespan. The best growing location receives full-sun exposure and is approximately 30 to 40 feet away from other trees or buildings. This species has an extremely deep-reaching root system that can sometimes break into underground septic tanks and waterlines in search of water.

River Birch

The river birch is a deciduous tree that can reach heights of more than 40 feet. As implied by its name, this tree is most at home on the banks of rivers, lakes and ponds, so is very well-suited to residential landscaping in wet, swampy areas. Place the river birch at least 30 feet away from other trees and buildings in a spot with full sun. River birches can survive in USDA Hardiness Zones four through nine, which encompasses the majority of the United States. Blooms are displayed in mid-spring, ranging in colour from chartreuse to pale green.

Plants That Absorb Standing Water
River birch trees. (autumn in Moscow image by Buryakov Andrey from

Bald Cypress

The bald cypress tree reaches heights of over 40 feet and needs a space approximately 30 to 40 feet away from structures or other trees. It is a deciduous that displays green or bronze-coloured flowers in mid-spring into early summer, although it is primarily grown for its foliage. The USDA rates the bald cypress for cultivation in hardiness zones four through nine. This tree is known for its ability to survive in areas with a high water table and frequent rain. The bald cypress requires neutral to acidic soil with a pH ranging from 5.6 to 7.5. The most effective method for propagating the tree is by rooting from woody or softwood stem or semi-hardwood or hardwood cuttings, or by simply layering. To collect seeds from an existing tree, allow the seed heads to develop and dry out on the living plant, then remove and collect the seeds.

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