Site-specific hydrological conditions affect the availability of trace metals for vegetation. In a greenhouse experiment, the effect of submersion on the metal uptake by the wetland plant species Salix cinerea and Populus nigra grown on a contaminated dredged sediment-derived soil and on an uncontaminated soil was evaluated. An upland hydrological regime for the polluted sediment caused elevated Cd concentrations in leaves and cuttings for both species. Emergence and soil oxidation after initial submersion of a polluted sediment resulted in comparable foliar Cd and Zn concentrations for S. cinerea as for the constant upland treatment. The foliar Cd and Zn concentrations were clearly higher than for submerged soils after initial upland conditions. These results point at the importance of submergence-emergence sequence for plant metal availability. The addition of foliar-based organic matter or aluminosilicates to the polluted sediment-derived soil in upland conditions did not decrease Cd and Zn uptake by S. cinerea. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.