Pond Plants – A handy guide

There are a huge variety of pond plants to choose from for the garden nowadays, coming in practically every shape and size you could ever want. When buying try to think about the overall shape and form you wish to create in and around the water. Ideally have tall marginal plants around the back and sides, with perhaps a bog garden area for amphibians and other wildlife.

pond plants

Pond cabbage helps with the treatment of green water

Small marginal plants look good at the front, with perhaps a Lilly and some oxygenating plants deeper under the water, floating pond plants can also be a nice addition but are generally hard to overwinter and are best treated as annuals. If you are looking to stock up on koi pond plants you will have to take a different tack and make allowances for the sheer size these fishes can attain and their voracious appetites for everything leafy!

Bog Plants

These are the main pond plants that really love soggy damp conditions but don’t like their feet totally immersed as marginals do. They do best in a purpose-built bog garden at the side of the pond. Hostas, Primulas, Gunneras, and Lobelias are a good place to start looking.

plants for pond bog filter

Gunneras make really great bog plants around your pond.

Always take into account the indicated eventual size on the plant labels and lay them out in their pots so you can space them pleasingly before planting. They grow very quickly, so though an area may look spartan at first, if you do overcrowd your plants it will look very messy when grown.

Marginal Pond Plants

The plants that blend and merge a well-crafted pond seamlessly into the garden at large, teamed with some thoughtful planting around a new garden pond, some well-chosen, and placed marginals, and other small pond plants can quickly make a new pond look like its been there for years. It can look amazingly good.

Marsh marigolds are the perfect marginal plant for your pond

They are generally planted in plastic crates or pond baskets, lined with hessian, and filled with special loam-based pond plant compost. They are then topped off with a good 1” of large pea gravel to stop fish from disturbing the soil. Place on the marginal shelves around your pond. You can mix and match irises, rushes, and grasses at the back and sides with marsh marigolds and forget-me-nots at the front. So many to choose from!

Oxygenating Plants

Not particularly famed for their beauty or form, but still oxygenating pond plants nevertheless fill a crucial role in a healthy garden pond and should never be overlooked.

Hornwort plant (Ceratophyllum demersum) is the perfect oxygenator for your water.

Hornwort and Egeria are the most common and hardy, growing vigorously when established. Best planted in a small crate or basket containing only gravel, the soil may rot the stems. Space four bunches around a small basket and slowly immerse so that the top of the plant is visible.

If you cant see the plant it’s not getting enough light! You may need to periodically cull them in the summer, a third to half of the pond given to oxygenators is fine.

Water Lillys

Everyone is familiar with the beauty of the water lily. Not always the easiest plant to grow in the past, it is now getting easier due to much more rigorous varieties being produced.

There are now very many hardy water lilies to choose from in an array of colors and petal shapes. Some get huge and some are perfect even for small garden ponds, I strongly advise you to check the size before you buy!

Also, I would recommend investing in a good quality pond plant fertilizer, as they are hungry plants and will fade quickly if undernourished. When transplanting to a larger basket make sure the tuber is at the same depth to help avoid crown rot.

Floating Pond Plants

Nothing is more restful and lovely than a pond in the garden. Fish, beautiful greenery, and perhaps a waterfall, create a relaxing, stress-free oasis. Ponds need a bit of maintenance and care to keep them in good shape. Many people enjoy the serenity of aquatic plants floating on a pond.

Adding aquatic plants to a pond is a good investment in healthy water and enhances the overall beauty of the pond. Floating pond plants limit the amount of light that enters the pond water thus reducing the amount of algae that is formed. Algae are responsible for turning pond water green, less algae mean clearer water.

Floating aquatic pond plants have developed special features that allow them to live in the water. Their leaves are broad and flat which aid in flotation. In addition, many species developed air sacs, another flotation aid. They have small, feathery roots that take in oxygen and require no planting. It is easy to integrate these types of plants in a pond; simply float them on top of the water.

Pond owners can choose from many species of floating aquatic plants, either nonflowering or flowering types. All varieties of floating aquatic plants have certain elements in common; they float on top of the water, move freely on the surface of the pond, and do not take root on the bottom of the pond.

water lettuce pond plant

water cabbage, water lettuce, Nile cabbage, or shell flower as it is sometime known.

One of the most popular floating pond plants is water lettuce. Water cabbage as it is sometimes called is a beautiful light green plant whose ribbed leaves resemble shells. The leaves grow from the center of the plant in a spiral creating a lovely rosette. Tiny hairs grow all over the leaves that help it float on the surface of the water. The plant reproduces quickly and population control is necessary to prevent it from taking over the entire surface of a pond. Water lettuce is a non-flowering aquatic plant.

Duckweed is another popular floating pond plant and comes in several varieties. This plant is also called a water lentil and has no clear-cut stem or leaves. Large duckweed is green on the surface and purple underneath while the common variety can be dark or light green. This plant must be kept under control or it will take over the surface of the pond. Other non-blooming aquatic pond plants include frog-bit, parrot’s feather, and fairy moss.

floating water hyacinth plant

Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes)

One of the most popular floating aquatic plants is water hyacinth. This delicate plant is sensitive to cold weather and must be protected from frost. The water hyacinth blooms in June and July; the exquisite violet-blue flowers provide a wow factor to even the humblest pond. There are many other varieties of the blooming floating plants including floating yellow hearts and red ludwigia.

Pond plants provide cover from natural light and keep algae production under control. They move elegantly along the water’s surface, enhancing the beauty and serenity of any garden pond. These beautiful plants will help keep the pond healthy and provide an elegant aesthetic to any pond.