Fast growth recovery post-submergence is important for establishment of riparian species in zones where water level fluctuates. Luo et al. investigate recovery patterns of two wetland plants, Alternanthera philoxeroides and Hemarthria altissima, characterized by ‘escape’ and ‘quiescence’ strategies of flood tolerance, respectively. They find that a stem-elongation escape strategy depletes carbohydrate reserves but recovery of photosynthesis after flooding is rapid and growth soon resumes. It contrast, conservation of resources in the quiescent species allows rapid regrowth soon after submergence before photosynthesis fully recovers.