Pond Plants 101

1. Benefits
2. Four Types of Pond Plants
3. Seasonal Care

1. Benefits and Disadvantages:

Filtration- nitrogen cycle, competing with algae. Pond plants are one of the most important components to a healthy, well balanced pond. The Biology of the pond depends upon the Nitrogen Cycle- ammonia is broken down by beneficial bacteria into Nitrates,  Plants use this as fertilizer. So plants actually “clean” the water making it a healthy environment especially for fish. If you do not have enough plants in the system, algae growth is common result – nature’s solution to help balance this cycle.  
Having Pond Plants= Less Algae

Preservation-provide cover, food and shelter for all pond life. 
Pond plants are pretty- many bloom and most are hardy perennials. Visually softens the hardscape, rocks, etc.. They also provide coverage and protection for fish and help shade the water (less Sun exposure, cooling the water and reduces algae blooms). Many attract pollinators and hummingbirds.

 Many types that can be placed in many levels- pond and stream edges (Marginal & Bog Plants) float on the surface (Floaters) or be submerged (Water lilies & Lily-like)  and finally the “oxygenator” water weeds- I would stay away from those generally, they break off and get stuck everywhere, they are very messy.

Vigilance- Avoid the Aggressive Take Over & Invasive Species. 

Pond Plants can planted directly into the pond or planted in pots placed at certain depths. The same rule applies to ornamentals- Right Plant = Right Place. Some pond plants can be invasive or over grow their spot, we try to avoid that situation. Aquatic plants grow either by running or clumping- so be careful when adding them.

2. Four Types of Pond Plants- Choosing, Natives, Pollinators. Bloom Time

  1. Marginal & Bog Plants- Plants that have their roots growing in the water, near surface or in wet areas. The foliage and flowers grow out of the water. Most pond plants belong in this category. Examples: Cattails, Iris, Lotus, Rushes, Sweet Flag. Bog plants like their roots wet but not their “crowns” or aerial portions in the water. Examples: Ferns, Gunnera, Hosta

  2. Lily / Lily-like- These plants have their roots completely submerged in water, growing in up to 2-3’ of water depth (more or less) with leaves and flowers at or above water surface. Examples: Floating Heart, Water Hawthorne, Water Lilies, Water Poppy  

  3. Floating Plants- Free floating plants with roots submerged in water, foliage growing above water surface. Examples: Fairy Moss, Frogbit, Water Hyacinth, Water Lettuce, Water Velvet

  4. Submerged Plants- Grow completely submerged under water surface. Also known as “oxygenators” these plants may look like weeds yet provide food, shelter and oxygen.


Choosing Plants- Right Plant = Right Place Aquatic plants are generally tough, easy to grow plants.  They need, like any other plant, to be placed in an area where they can survive the best.  That “area” is different for each plant regarding their preferred exposure and planting depth.  So it is important that you get to know your plants by name so it can be determined “What is there Right Place” for your plants to thrive. Hardy vs Tropical, Clumping vs Running Growers Annual Plants live for only one season or are not hardy in your area. Sometimes referred to as “tropicals” that may be hardy in warm areas. Perennial Plants are persistent, coming back year after year. Some perennials are longer lived than others and sometimes they do not make it through the winter. There may be reasons why- winter frost too soon, frozen exposed roots or your fish could have devoured it- maybe that species was not hardy in our “zone” 7/8 . 

  • How Many Plants do you need & Where to Add? 30-50% or more of your pond covered with plants. Add at proper depth per plant.