What Shrubs Soak Up the Most Water?

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It can be a real challenge for gardeners when there is excess water in your yard. Many homeowners think wet or soggy areas in the yard are off-limits to planting. Did you know that many types of plants can grow in excessively moist soil? So the question to ask is: what shrubs soak up the most water?

Many people need to deal with wet soil in their yards most of the year. Wet soil is often located at the low point of yards. These locations more often have heavy clay and catch basins of rainwater. They do not dry out unless there is a long dry spell.

Plan Your Landscape

Even if you plan your landscape well, moisture accumulation problems can happen. Moisture accumulation in your yard can be due to seasonal heavy rains or settings after construction. Nearby walkways, driveways, and patios can also add to moisture accumulation in your yard.

You can shift the problem of moisture accumulation in your yard into an advantage. Instead of allowing a squishy area in your lawn to hold up mud and mosquitos, create a water-tolerant landscape.

While most shrubs cannot grow well in highly wet soil, many are made for these conditions. There are lots of moisture-loving shrubs that do good soaking up water.

There are Shrubs that Flourish in Wet Places

Shrubs that soak up water are assets to marshy and wet landscapes by making the area manageable. They create beautiful landscapes, too.

Native shrub species are well suited for wet gardens. Similar to trees, shrubs interfere with rainfall before it hits the ground. The well-developed root systems of shrubs absorb moisture from the soil. A flowering shrub can, therefore, become the focal point of your rain garden.

What shrubs fit the bill? What shrubs soak up the most water?

What Shrubs soak up the Most Water?

If you have an area in your yard that always has standing water, perhaps from rain runoff, plant some scrubs that can enhance the spot and soak up the excess water.
A single deciduous or evergreen shrub can perfectly fill in a swampy area in your garden. Determine the plant hardiness zone of your location, then pick the water-thirsty shrubs to plant in your yard.

1. American Cranberry bush

The American cranberry is a viburnum and not a part of the cranberry family. It has many features that make it a suitable edible shrub.

This shrub grows white flowers in clusters 3 inches to 4 inches in diameter. It yields edible red dupes that hang from its stems and are ideal for jams, jellies, relishes, and sauces. It has dark green leaves that turn yellow or red-purple in fall.

The flowers of the American cranberry grow in clusters with small fertile flowers encircled by large and sterile flowers in the center

The American cranberry bush grows wet and well-drained soils.

Hardiness Zones: 2 – 7

2. Black Chokeberry

The Black Chokeberry is a deciduous shrub. It is commonly planted for erosion control in overly wet soils and windbreaks. It can also tolerate a variety of oil densities, textures, and pH levels.

The black chokeberry can grow to a height of 3-8 feet and 2 -6 feet wide. It has around plant form with an upright growth habit.

It has white flowers with pink anthers in spring that grow in 2-3-inch clusters. Its 1-3 inch finely-toothed leaves are glossy and in a dark green color in spring. They turn to orange, red, or purple in autumn.

In late summer and autumn, its ¼ to ½ inch clustered fruits become black or purple-black. The fruits can be used for jellies, jams, tea, wine, and syrup juice. They are also good food sources for birds and wildlife.

Hardiness Zone: 3 – 8

3. Swamp Azalea

The swamp azalea is a common wetland shrub. It is often called “clammy azalea” because it has a sticky corolla. This shrub’s flowers bloom after the leaves. It has hairless leaves, red stamens, and smooth twigs.

This deciduous shrub is open and loose. It can grow to be only 5 feet in height but up to 12 feet in width. It has leaves that are 1 ½-inch to 3 ½-inch long and 1 ½-inch wide clustered at the ends of its branches. The leaves have short stems and are green on both sides.

The swamp azalea has sweet-scented white flowers.

Hardiness Zones: 3 – 9

4. Button Bush

The buttonbush is a fantastic shrub that can adapt well to wet areas. It comes with white, round, and fragrant clusters of flowers in mid-summer and glossy green leaves.

This shrub can grow to be 5-8 feet tall; it has an upright, irregular, or arching shape. It can tolerate partial and full sun, and it prefers well-drained, moist, and wet soi, with the ability to tolerate alkaline soil, occasional flooding, and wet sites.

If you have a poorly drained spot, creek, or pond in your yard, the buttonbush can be an attractive addition.
Hardiness Zones: 6-9

5. Inkberry

The inkberry is typically found surrounding bogs and swamps. It is an evergreen shrub that grows to be 5-8 feet wide and in height. This shrub grows blackberries in the early fall when the opposite sex of this plant is grown beside one another.

The inkberry is greenish-white and grows in part shade to full sun. It requires average and medium to wet soil. It has light-green to dark green leaves that are about 5 cm wide. Its leaves can be bruised easily and will emit an unpleasant odor.

The inkberry flowers are sweet-smelling, small, and tubular in shape. They grow in clusters at the tips of the plant’s branches. Its berry fruits are greenish in color and turn to a black-deep purple color as they ripen.

The inkberry is an evergreen shrub that has an upright-round growth habit and is slow-growing.

Hardiness Zones: 5 – 9

6. Pussy Willow

Pussy willow, a wetland shrub, is often found along swamps, lakes, and streams. It can also, however, tolerate dry soil. This shrub can grow to about 15 feet tall with a spread of up to 12 inches.

The pussy yellow is a deciduous shrub with white flowers with yellow stamens. Male pussy willow shrubs are more highly-prized than the female ones because they produce catkins earlier. Catkins of male pussy yellows grow a lot of tiny flowers with numerous pollens in late spring; female catkins receive male pollens via bees and flies and grow flowers, too.

Pussy willows are fast-growing and quickly spread. They grow on the part shade to full sun.

Hardiness Zones: 4-8

7. SpiceBush

The spicebush is a deciduous shrub that thrives on well-draining and moist soil. It can grow to be 6-12 feet tall in partial to full sun. This aromatic shrub is beautiful year-round.

Spicebush flowers bloom in spring. Its red berries appear in fall. In the summer, it has swallowtail butterflies. The berries of the spicebush have a slight allspice flavor. You can crush its twigs and make it a substitute for cinnamon.

It is called “spicy” because spicebush twigs and leaves, when crushed, emit a spicy flavor and fragrance.

Hardiness Zone: 4 – 9

8. American Elderberry

The American elderberry is a fast-growing shrub that grows in average, medium to wet soil. It is typically seen along roadsides, stream banks, and moist woodlands.

The elderberry has large star-shaped yellowish-white flowers that grow in clusters. When planted as a border, it offers a gorgeous flower display in summer. This shrub grows edible dark purple berries that can be used to make pies, jellies, wine, and juice.

Hardiness Zones: 4 – 9

Final Thoughts

Too much water in a part of your yard can be a problem – but only if you allow it to be! It may only occur in certain seasons, or, it could remain wet all year round! Turn this into an advantage!

Some plants grow well in wet areas, and therefore doing your homework and choosing what shrubs soak up the most water will allow you to have an attractive and exciting garden.

Enjoy the new concept – and the new and different plants!

Jenny Marie
Tribal Writer

Edited By
Patricia Godwin

Patricia Godwin

Patricia has many years of experience as a content writer on various subjects, but her first love is gardening. She’s never met a plant she didn’t like and, consequently, she writes about every type of plant you can think of. Once an avid gardener with a herb garden, a succulent rockery, and a rose garden – to mention a few. Nowadays, she’s constantly on the move searching for interesting plants to bring to your attention; and explain to you all the details you need to grow, care and maintain these plants.

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