En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Friday - February 20, 2009

From: Clifton Park , NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Rain Gardens
Title: What plants can absorb the excess water in my back yard?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I am looking for any plants and trees that can absorb the excess water in my back yard. There is a large area that is swampy and always wet. Could you please provide me some suggestions?

ANSWER:

You don't mention the source of the water, or how much there is. or whether it is there all of the time or only intermittently. This may be more of a problem for a hydrologist than for a botanist.

It is true that plants absorb moisture from the soil and release it through their leaves (transpiration), but absorbing excess water may be beyond the capability of most plants. Bear in mind that many plants can't survive in soil that is saturated with water.

To find trees that can grow in moist/wet environments, go to the Explore Plants menu on the "Ask Mr. Smarty Plants" page and click on "Recommended Species". Select the state of New York on the map, and you wiill get a list of 112 commercially available native plant species suitable for planned landscapes in New York. Select the Narrow Your Search option  and choose  Tree under "HABIT", Perrenial under "DURATION", and both Moist and Wet under "SOIL MOISTURE" and the list shrinks to 37. You can repeat the process , choosing Shrub under "HABIT", and you will get a list of 14 shrubs.

I've done this  to find five tree species that are adapted to grow in wet soils.

Bur Oak Quercus macrocarpa (bur oak)

Black Gum Nyssa sylvatica (blackgum)

Canadian Serviceberry Amelanchier canadensis (Canadian serviceberry)

Gray Birch Betula populifolia (gray birch)

American Beech Fagus grandifolia (American beech)

Our National Suppliers Directory can help you find nurseries in your area that handle these plants.

 

From the Image Gallery


Bur oak
Quercus macrocarpa

Blackgum
Nyssa sylvatica

Canadian serviceberry
Amelanchier canadensis

Gray birch
Betula populifolia

American beech
Fagus grandifolia

More Rain Gardens Questions

Riverbank retention in VA
March 26, 2012 - I need some groundcover/bank retention for a Virginia riverbank in mixed sun and shade. I want to plant something native to VA. the area is out of the water but subject to occasional (4-5 times per y...
view the full question and answer

Construction problems on site in Mansfield OH
April 28, 2012 - Last year we had a rectangular above ground pool put in the person who "leveled" for use did a terrible job and basically dug a huge hole for us to put our pool in. The back side of the pool is abou...
view the full question and answer

Pond Plants for Eureka Springs AR
May 16, 2012 - I have a 1 acre pond that we are cleaning up. This area will be used for recreation and fishing. We plan to put native rock around some of the edges and need perennial plants that do well in rocky are...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a pond edge in IN
June 08, 2012 - Hello, I live in Southern Indiana. I care very much about reinforcing native plants for my region & not planting anything invasive. I had a pond built last year & need some suggestions for native ...
view the full question and answer

Rain Garden plant for N. Mississippi
March 03, 2010 - Rain Garden Plants for North Mississippi/Mid-South Region. I wish the search parameters included plants which tolerate seasonal flooding and droughts, so that each state might search for its own r...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center