One of my favorite things to do is relax by the water. Not living near the ocean anymore, I generally have to settle for ponds as my body of water for a relaxing afternoon. But every good pond needs some beautiful plant life to keep them as aesthetically pleasing as you’d hope for.
Of course, plants do more than add touches of beauty. Some provide oxygenation, others keep mosquitoes away, and others stabilize land to prevent erosion around a pond. With all these in mind, it’s important to not just pick a plant for its beauty but for its added benefits your particular pond might require.
With these many concerns in mind, I offer up the 21 best pond plants for your consideration.
Probably the most well-known pond plant is the water lily. These beautiful plants float, with their leaves and gorgeous blooms distinguishable from most other floating plants in the pond world. The flowers themselves come in a huge range of colors, including shades of red, green, orange, yellow, blue, violet, wine, indigo, and everything between.
Water lilies are perennial, as well, so they’ll keep growing, year after year. The varieties also range in size from a mere two inches in diameter (the leaves) to a massive six-foot width in the giant Victoria variety. Water lilies come in two categories: tropical or hardy.
Just by looking at this floating plant, you know why it’s called a clover. The beautiful four-leaf shape resembles that of a land clover. The plant offers shade to your koi or other fish as well as providing some filtration for the water in the pond.
Water Smartweed likes the muddy edges of your pond or floating on the surface of the water. They make for a great cover for your fish during warmer months while providing you with some gorgeous foliage and flowers to look at. Be sure to protect the roots from rooting fish with a net or plant them in pots and rest the pots just inside the water at the edge of the pond.
Lotus is a popular species of flowers in many cultures due to the health benefits of eating them, the absolutely beautiful aesthetics of the flowers, and the protection they provide fish in a pond. The plants come in many varieties with plants growing between 18 and 60 inches and an assortment of coloring blooms.
They will spread across the water, offering shade for your koi and other fish, but be sure to use protective netting for the roots to prevent fish from rooting them up.
Another beautiful flowering water plant is the water poppy. The yellow flowers have oval-shaped leaves and grow quickly, especially in the summertime. The plants provide great filtration for your pond and beautifully float atop the water providing shade and shelter for your fish underneath.
Plants for Shallow Water
This lovely plant adds some color and rich greenery for a stunning backdrop at any pond. It grows well along the edges of the pond in shallow water and provides plenty of shelter for small critters hanging out in the water, like frogs, fish, turtles, and muskrats. The perennial plant comes back year after year, providing long-term protection and aesthetics for your pond. They’re also specifically great for koi ponds as they’re not as easily rooted up as other plants.
The taro plant has a deliciously edible root that many consume for its high-fiber content and health benefits. It naturally grows in tropical water areas and provides a delightful greenery backdrop for any pond in warm enough climates. The plants love shallow water and provide fish and other animals protective shade and shelter.
The cardinal flower makes for a great choice around the pond thanks to its water-loving nature and those beautiful blooms. The plants do well along the shallow edges of your pond and spring up with leaves up to eight inches long and flashy flowers perennially in mid-to-late summer.
This lovely bright springy green plant loves shallow water and makes for an excellent choice for rocky edges in ponds. The plant softens the edges of stones and rocks and grows out into the water, softly floating just around the edges. Small yellow flowers bloom all summer long.
The plant is prolific and can become a nuisance if not tended, but it’s easily plucked up and controlled if it starts to get out of hand.
Interestingly, Creeping Jenny has been used for medicinal care in traditional Chinese medicine, treating gall stones and bladder stones, wounds, and battling with gout. The plant is also known as Moneywort.
Horsetail is another medicinal plant, used for treating ulcers, wounds, and kidney issues, strengthening the urinary tract, promoting hair and nail growth, and maintaining healthy body weight. The flavor is similar to that of celery. Be sure to read up on how to harvest horsetail properly if you decide to turn it into a supplemental tea. The plant does well along the edges of ponds.
This beautiful bog plant happily grows along the edges of your pond or in planters, if you prefer, that are submerged in the shallows of the pond. The plants add a unique, almost exotic, or other-worldly touch to your water gardening along with the vibrant pops of color and rich greenery.
Plants to Fight Algae Growth
This beautiful purple flowering plant is one of the most popular – if not the most popular – garden pond plants around. The plant is beautiful but it also helps to combat algae in the pond as it competes with it for nutrients.
Water hyacinth is also a great floating cover for fish during spawning season and it’s a natural water filtration plant.
Popular among fishkeepers, hornwort is a great plant for your garden pond with fish present. The plant floats, offering shade and protection for your fish, as well as adding some unique textures and looks to your pond. Plus, this plant helps to combat algae growth, which makes it an all-around winner for many pond owners.
The mosaic plant is a gorgeous and unique-looking plant that grows red and green diamond-shaped leaves in rosettes, with sunny yellow flowers popping out in the summertime. The plant helps to filter your pond as well as kill algae and provide some safety cover for your fish.
The gorgeous pickerelweed blooms in flowers of pink, lavender, white, or blue shades and provides your fishy friends with some nice shelter in the heat of summer. The plant also helps to reduce and prevent algae bloom from occurring in your garden pond.
Water lettuce produces attractive little rosettes of bright green leaves that propagate and spread quickly. Technically the plant is an invasive species, so you do have to carefully maintain it to prevent it from spreading beyond its bounds. But thanks to that overachieving spirit, it helps prevent algae from growing by starving it out.
Plants to Help Combat Mosquitoes
Another floating plant, the mosquito fern is well-known for keeping mosquito populations at bay in ponds. The reason? The plant is exceptionally fast-growing and keeps the surface of the water covered, which prevents mosquitos from laying their eggs in the pond.
The plant itself is small but it continually propagates every 7 to 10 days, so it needs to be maintained well to prevent it from overtaking the whole pond and reducing the dissolved oxygen in the water, which may harm any fish you’re keeping in the pond.
Plants for Oxygenation
This stunning flowering aquatic plant is a multi-tasking master. Not only do they add splendid color and beauty in springtime, but they help to filter the water and require almost no maintenance. They’re great for koi ponds as well, being a plant those golden beauties won’t eat, and they blend in nicely with practically any other landscaping you’d like to put in, smoothly going from terrestrial to aquatic without issue.
There are literally thousands of varieties of water iris to choose from, as well, so you’ll be able to mix and match for the exact color scheme you’re looking for.
This unique aquatic plant has a sturdy underwater root system that anchors into substrate or just absorbs the nutrients from the water column. It’s great for oxygenating your pond, though you do need to maintain it or it can overtake the pond and choke out other plants.
Plants for Stabilizing Pond Edge Erosion
Golden Japanese Sweetflag
The Golden Japanese Sweetflag goes by a few different names including Dwarf Variegated Sweetflag, Grassy-Leaved Sweet Flag, Japanese Rush, Japanese Sweet Flag, and Variegated Sweet Flag. The plant is perfect for water gardens and containers alike, happily growing its toes in the water or even partially submerged.
The stunning foliage adds brightness to shady spots and helps to stabilize the banks of your ponds.
The funky corkscrew rush adds some fun flavor to your pond landscaping. The twisty, turny plant looks a bit like a bad hairdo and makes for great cuttings for homegrown bouquets. The rush helps prevent pond edge erosion as well, making it both aesthetically appealing and functional.
Pond Plants: They’re Easy as That
Most pond plants are super easy to care for. Depending on what else you’ve got going on in your pond – bluegill stocked for fishing, koi for aesthetics, or just about anything else – you can find some great plants that work well with your needs. Ideally, you’ll combine some plants that eliminate algae, provide protection for your pond life, and add some filtration for your pond to amp up the benefits of any pond filters you have as well as improve the health of all the residents overall.