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Top 10 pond plants

Pond plants

Water enhances any garden, and there are a wide range of aquatic plants that will thrive when submerged in a pond. We spoke to expert grower Linda Smith at BBC Gardeners' World Live 2009, who recommended 10 of the best plants for garden ponds.


If you have a garden pond, no matter how small or large, then you'll be able to grow aquatic plants In addition to looking attractive, pond plants can provide useful surface cover and shelter for aquatic wildlife.

Grow pond plants in aquatic compost, topped with grit, and be sure to choose plants that are suited for the space you have available. The required planting depth varies from species to species, with some plants needing just 2.5cm (1in) of water above their crown, and others needing 30cm (12in) or more.

Schoenoplectus lacustris subsp. tabernaemontani 'Zebrinus'

Schoenoplectus lacustris subsp. tabernaemontani 'Zebrinus'

This aquatic perennial should be divided annually to maintain the striking green and white horizontal variegation of its foliage. When dividing only replant the most vigorous sections. Plant with 5cm (2in) of water above the crown, and cut back in winter.

Carex elata 'Aurea'

Carex elata 'Aurea'

'Aurea' is a vigorous, long-lasting sedge, with vivid yellow-green foliage. Allow to reach its required size and divide when necessary. If kept in a small pond, it will probably need to be divided every two years.

Cyperus involuctratus

Cyperus involucratus

An attractive, hardy relative of the non-hardy, larger Cyperus papyrus. It emerges in late-May, then dies back in winter. Easily grown from seed or divided in spring, C. involucratus should be submerged to a depth of 5cm (2in).

Iris laevigata 'Variegata'

Iris laevigata 'Variegata'

An attractive small iris, I. laevigata 'Variegata' has pretty blue flowers and white and green variegated foliage.

Veronica beccabunga

Veronica beccabunga

This pretty British native bears delicate blue flowers from May to July. Plants will look best if plants are renewed from cuttings every year (cuttings should be taken from new, leggy stems).

Anemopsis californica

Anemopsis californica

Between June and September, Anemopsis californica produces distinctive, honey-scented white flowers. It can be propagated from runners, rather than divided. Cut off the runners if you don't want the clump to spread. A. californica should be planted 2.5cm (1in) beneath the water.

Iris pseudacorus 'Berlin Tiger'

Iris pseudacorus 'Berlin Tiger'

'Berlin Tiger' bears eye-catching yellow flowers with brown markings. The rhizomes should be divided every two years, after the plant has flowered in June.

Myosotis scorpioides

Myosotis scorpioides

From May to July, Myositis scorpioides produces blue forget-me-not flowers. It can be planted in water, to a depth of 7.5cm (3in) or in wet mud at a pond margin. It can be divided or grown from seed in spring.

Nymphaea 'Pygmaea Helvola'

Nymphaea 'Pygmaea Helvola'

This miniature water lily spreads about 30cm (12in), with each flower and leaf being just 2.5cm (1in) in size. Given a sunny position it will flower from June to September, each flower lasting 2-3 days. Plant with 15cm (6in) of water above the crown.

Callitriche verna

Callitriche verna

Callitriche verna is an oxygenating plant, forming attractive mats of foliage that provide surface cover for ponds and a shelter for tadpoles. It appears in March and dies back in winter. It will partially disappear in very hot conditions, but will grow again when temperatures fall.




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happylady 24/11/2011 at 15:28

Excellent. Have already got a lot of these plants in my ponds. How do I get rid of murky water? Not an algae problem as this is not evident and I introduce an algae product to control this when it happens. Do I need more oxygenating plants and do they need to be in full sunlight?

kathryn.brock 24/11/2011 at 15:28

I am still unclear which two oxygenating plants will suit my small pond. They will be replacing a water feature . The pond will also have three goldfish and a resident frog in summer. Pleaase can you suggest suitable oxygenators which won't be too rampant. Thank you.

gothic234 24/11/2011 at 15:29

i am going to build a pond and this has been realy helpfull :)

mary walton 18/04/2014 at 21:25

Do you need oxygenating plants to keep your water clear o r do you still need a filter

Dovefromabove 19/04/2014 at 08:30

Our new pond is a wildlife pond and has no fish.  It doesn't have a filter, we're using lots of oxygenating plants, principally UK native hornwort, water violet and frogbit.  We get them from here http://www.puddleplants.co.uk/oxygenator-floating-plants/