Aquatic plants

By Tim Farrant, Horticultural Wizard

Aquatic plants are plants that like to grow in water or boggy ground and can be purchased from specialist nurseries.

This is just a selection of plants that are available for your pond. Don’t get carried away when planting, plant a few and see how they grow and then if needed, add a few more.

Oxygenating Plants

This type of plant oxygenates the pond water to ensure the survival of pond life.


Fontinalis Antipyretic Or Willow Moss

It will grow in sun or shade and is slow-growing, so it won’t take over your pond. Your fish will like it as it makes a good spawning habitat


Myriophyllum Spicatum, Or Water Milfoil

Good for small ponds has long stems of feathery green leaves providing oxygen for your pond fauna. It has small red buds opening into white flowers in June/July held just above the water.


Potamogeton Natans Or Floating Pondweed

Better for larger ponds as it can spread fairly quickly. It has floating oval-shaped leaves and slim submerged leaves producing a spike of flowers in summer.


Floating Plants


Hydrocharis Morsus-ranae Or Frogbit

Has leaves that look like very small water lily leaves producing small white flowers in summer. It likes the sun and the water must be deep enough to prevent the buds for freezing in the winter.


Stratiotes Aloides Or Water Soldier

An upright spiky leaved plant that needs at least 30cm of water to float on. White flowers are seen in mid to late summer and come the winter the plant sinks to the bottom to rise again next spring. Older plants tend not to survive the winter very well.


Marginal Plants 30cm Or More Depth Of Water


Alisma Plantago-Aquatica Or Water Plantain

Has rhizomes producing a rosette of green leaves followed by fronds of small white flowers in late spring but deadheading is essential to prevent it shedding seed and choking your pond.


Aponogeton Distachyos Or Water Hawthorn

White forked flowers with a scent in summer from submerged tubers and spear-shaped leaves. It may have hawthorn in its name but there are no sharp spikes.


Nymphaea Or Water Lily

They come in a wide range of planting depths, colours white, pinks, yellows and purple, varying numbers of petals and leaf sizes plus some even have a scent. The large floating leaves provide shade for aquatic pond life and they help reduce green algae.


15-30cm Depth Of Water


Ranunculus Flammula Or Lesser Spearwort

A small plant producing masses of small buttercup shaped flowers all summer. There is larger version Ranunculus lingua Great or Giant Spearwort where the flowers are up to 50mm wide. It’s a member of the Buttercup family.


Zantedeschia Aethiopica Or Arum Lily

Looks exotic with arrowhead-shaped leaves and white leaf-like surround to a yellow spike of very small flowers in the spring and summer. It can get fairly tall 1m so position it carefully in your pond. There is a similar plant with a yellow spathe called Lysichiton americanus or Skunk Cabbage which as the name suggests has a slightly unpleasant smell


5-15cm Depth Of Water


Butomus Umbellatus Or Flowering Rush

A deciduous perennial that can grow up to 1m in height, with thin leaves followed by stems of rosy pink scented flowers in late summer, likes full sun.



Many different varieties that have sword-shaped leaves and stems, depending on the variety the flowers vary in colours from white, blue, purple, rose, yellow or magenta. Some like the water’s edge while others need 15cm of water.


Orontium Aquaticum Or Golden Club

Will grow in deep mud or a basket at the edge of the pond or water up to 60cm deep. Has long blue/green floating leaves, producing candle-like stems/flowers in spring and summer.


Bog/wet Soil


Carex Elata “aurea”

It's a member of the Sedge family. Looks like a grass and has bright yellow leaves edged with green forming a mound up to 60cm, the flower spikes are dark brown.


Dierama Pulcherrimum Or Angel’s Fishing Rod

It’s a mound of long leaves (1.5m) with arching stems rising above carrying sprays of trumpet shaped deep pink flowers 5cm long in the summer, this is a great plant to have.


Gunnera Manicata Or Giant Rhubarb

This is great if you have a large boggy area to plant up. It can grow 2m or more with huge leaves carried on spiny stems and has rust coloured very small flowers on cone shaped spikes. It's not for the faint hearted.


Houttuynia Cordata Chameleon

An evergreen plant grown for its leaf colour of green, cream and rusty red. This plant will spread so needs to be kept in check.


Lychnis Flos-cuculi Or Ragged Robin

perennial with thin stems and leaves flowering in late spring to summer with finely cut pink petals. Will grow in sun to dappled shade.


Myosotis Scorpioides Water Forget-me-not

This is an untidy perennial to grow in sun or semi-shade but has sky blue flowers with yellow centres all summer to make up for its unruly habit.


Veronica Beccabunga Or Brooklime

A spreading perennial with small blue flowers that’s useful to cover up pond edges and will even grow in the shade.


You haven’t finished until there is a bench close to the pond, so you can sit back and watch the flora and fauna with a cup of tea.

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