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10+ Popular Water Plants for Ponds

Are you trying to create a water garden but confused about choosing suitable water plants for your ponds? If so, here is the end of your worries.

There are thousands of aquatic plants for ponds roughly divided into five types; bog plants, marginal plants, floating aquatic plants, emergent plants, and submerged plants.  Some popular examples include Water Lily, Cardinal flower, Hornworts, Pitcher plant, Creeping Jenny, etc.

You must ensure how the plant fits into your aquatic garden before buying a bunch of water plants for your ponds.

Types of Water Plants for Ponds with Examples

Aquatic plant cultivation has several advantages, including the prevention of algae growth, ornamental value, fish protection, and erosion control.

Here are some examples of each category of water plants for your convenience.

TypesDescriptions Examples
Bog plantsMoisture loving plants thriving in wet areasBlue flag iris, Cardinal flower, Pitcher plant
Marginal plantsPlants growing in margins of your pondsCockscrew Rush, Taro, Watercress
Floating aquatic plantsPlant having leaves floating on water surfaceWater lettuce, Water Hyacinth
Emergent plantsPlants that are rooted in bottom but leaves and stems floating in water surfaceLotus, Water Lilies, Pickerel weed
submerged plantsPlants that are fully submerged in waterParrot's Feather, Hornwort, Moneywort

10+ Exotic Water Plants for Ponds

You may create any type of pond suitable to your landscape, such as a circular pond, flowing pond, koi pond, layered pond, and many more.

Considering your needs, we have listed 13 popular water plants suitable for any type of pond.

 1. Water Lilies (Nymphaea Odorata)

Water Lilies come in different colors, with numerous overlapped petals and big glossy leaves embedded in long stalks.

Usually, they are ornamental plants that thrive well in cooler climates (zone 3 and warmer) and take 5 ft of space.

pink water lily plants blooming in the pond water
Water Lily is also known as July’s birth flower.

Lilies live around 15-20 years, but flowers last 2 to 3 days.

Among Lilies, the Pink Sensation Lily with silvery tips and clear pink color is one of the most beautiful Lily varieties and blooms all season long.   

2. Lotus (Nelumbo Nucifera)

Lotus is a perennial plant with only two species; yellow flowered American Lotus and pink Asiatic Lotus with many different hybrids. 

When grown mature, solitary pink or white flowers with big fan-shaped leaves become its center of attraction.

The plant grows up to 49 inches with flowers lasting 3-4 days. 

You can find it growing in a temperate, desert, tropical, Mediterranean, or subtropical climate in a hardiness zone over 4, but you need to make sure not to turn your pond water into ice.

Always remember that Lotus needs 5 hours of sunlight to bloom, and high nitrogen content may hinder its growth. 

If you are still confused about recognizing Lotus among Lilies, visit Water Lily vs. Lotus

3. Blue Iris (Iris Versicolor)

These plants beautify ponds and help in nutrient cycling to make your water garden healthy.

Blue Iris is a bog plant with 60-90 cm height that never fails to make your pond extraordinary with its attractive blue petals and pointed leaves shaped like a sword.

If the plant gets suitable condition, it can live up to 20 years. 

Moreover, it is frost tolerant at USDA zones ranging from 3-9 but needs full sun or partial shade for its proper growth.

The Blue Iris flower is also effective for treating burns, sores, wounds, and liver and kidney diseases.

4. Cardinal Flower (Lobelia Cardinalis)

Cardinal flowers are wonderful bog plants growing around the pond edges.

They can attract anyone with their enchanting brilliant, red, two-lipped blossom and glossy bright green leaves. 

However, these plants won’t last longer than 4 years, but they happily reseed, so you don’t need to worry about buying another bunch of this variety.

They can grow 3-4 ft tall in hardiness zone 3-9 but ensure to plant them in partial shade to full sun for their suitable growth. 

5. Pitcher Plants (Nepenthes)

Pitcher plants are carnivorous, having prey-trapping leaves and flowers with five bright red-colored petals. 

Interestingly, this plant traps and feeds upon unwanted insects, including frogs, using its leaves. Then, it digests them with the help of fluid inside leaf cavities.

Pitcher plant
Using the digestive fluid, Pitcher plants digest the victim within 24 to 48 hours.

Pitcher plants can thrive in hardiness zone 7-9 with an average height of 8 inches and grow best in nitrogen-poor soil.

Besides, a single plant contains up to 10 pitchers that last for about 2 years, whereas the whole plant lives for over 50 years.

Be sure to suit Pitcher plants in warm, humid areas and avoid them being brown and crispy.

6. Taro (Colocasia Esculenta)

Taro is a fantastic plant with flaring green waterproof leaves and flowers bearing greenish-yellow spathe surrounding the spadix.

This ideal bog plant grows up to 1.5 m and has a lifespan of around 6 months. 

Besides, its leaves and roots are edible and served in dishes such as tea, ice cream, soup, or other delicious items. 

Although it demands a warm tropical climate (hardiness zone 9-11), you can plant it in cooler areas with extra care.

7. Gotu Kola (Centella Asiatica)

This perennial plant thrives best in warm climates with hardiness zones 7 through 11.

Gotu Kola is a hardy bog plant with small fan-shaped leaves and umbel inflorescence bearing pink flowers.

The water plant can grow up to 15 cm under full sun during winter and partial shade during summer.

Besides its ornamental value to your aquatic garden, the leaves of this plant also have antifungal and antibacterial properties. 

According to a legend, one Chinese herbalist survived for more than 20 years by consuming Gotu Kola.

8. Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia Nummularia)

Creeping Jenny will be the best choice for the pond edges if you have a shady aquatic garden.

The bell-shaped yellow flowers and heart-shaped leaves are the main attraction of this plant.

You can also call it Moneywort, as the leaves are shaped like tiny coins.  

This plant thrives best in USDA zone 2-10 and grows up to 5 inches with a lifespan of about 5 years.

Although it’s one of the adored groundcovers, you must maintain it properly as it spreads unnecessarily.

If not managed properly, Creeping Jenny may become invasive.

Corn dog-looking plants can also honor your garden ponds including Southern, Miniature, and Laxmanii Cattails. 

9. Water lettuce (Pistia Stratiotes)

This perennial plant will never disappoint you in making your pond graceful with its green, ruffled, flowery, floating leaves.

Despite not being showy, Water Lettuces do bear pale green flowers hidden within the foliage.

Also known as Nile cabbage, it is usually cultivated as an ornamental plant.

You can find Water Lettuces growing up to 6 inches tall and 10 inches wide in USDA zone 9-11.  

Make sure to keep these plants out of reach of children and pets as they are highly toxic despite their look like regular Lettuce. 

10. Mosquito Fern (Azolla)

Are you trying to enjoy your free time in your garden but are irritated by the mosquitoes around you? No worries now!

Plant Mosquito Fern, as it prevents mosquitoes from laying eggs. 

Mosquito Fern, also known as water fern or Fairy Moss, has tiny green, overlapping leaves forming a thick carpet-like appearance.

This plant thrives best in hardiness zone 7b to 8b, with an average height of 1 inch and a lifespan ranging from 13 to 35 days.

Also, it behaves as an excellent nitrogen fixer, which can be perfect for green manure. 

11. Calla Lily (Zantedeschia Aethiopica)

Calla Lily is an annual plant that spreads 2-3 ft tall and 1-2ft wide. 

It produces sword-like leaves and creamy white spathes from the stems. 

You can easily grow these aquatic plants in the wet soil around your pond and enjoy their enchanting white bloom, which symbolizes rebirth and resurrection.

Calla Lily
Calla Lily is not an actual Lily and can be poisonous to humans and animals.

Calla Lily thrives best in USDA zone 8-11 and lasts up to 10 weeks.

Besides the water plant, it also serves as a bouquet in flower shops and popular events. 

12. Hornwort (Ceratophyllum Spp.)

Sometimes, algal growth spreads so rapidly that it’s tough to manage the pond.

So, Hornwort will be the best choice as it minimizes algal growth, helping to keep your pond clear and oxygenated.

You can recognize Hornworts as evergreen perennial plants having thallus, short side branches, and a bushy appearance.

This plant flourishes best in hardiness zone 5-11 and grows up to 10 inches in the wild and 3 inches in the tank.

13. Rotala (Rotala Rotundifolia)

Like Honwort plants, this aquatic plant has the ability to control algal growth as it competes with algae for nutrition, making your pond water clear and oxygenated.

Rotala is a beautiful perennial having a dark pink stem, small opposite leaves, and small pink flowers arranged in spikes.

Generally, it grows well in hardiness zone 8-12 with heights of up to 10-15 inches.

Native to eastern Asian territories, Rotala possesses antipyretic properties to eliminate the fever.

If you have developed OCD about a kempt home, you must garden plants that grow without soil

FAQs Regarding Water Plants for Ponds

What Kind of Plants Keep Ponds Clean?

If your pond is invaded by algal blooms, submerged/oxygenated species will be the best choice to keep your pond clean.

Which Plants can Grow Fully Submerged in Water?

Hydrophytes that may grow entirely submerged in water include Hornworts, Parrot Feather, Rotala,  Vallisneria, etc.

Can you Grow too Many Plants in a Pond?

Putting numerous plants in one pond can cause a lack of nutrition in your pond water. However, if you want many plants, you can always choose plants that occupy less space in your pond.

Wait! If you need more amateur gardening experience, learn DIY Terrarium Ideas to beautify your interiors.

Wrapping Up

If you have an existing pond or are interested in getting one, always make sure about plant demands before creating an aquatic garden.

If algal blooms invade your pond, growing submerged plants that work as better oxygenators are best.

Don’t plant your marginal plants too deep. Growing them around 5cm depth will be better.

Moreover, if you are into Lilies, planting them around 50 cm depth is best for their growth.