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Native plants for wildlife ponds

Native plants play an important role in a pond’s ecosystem, providing food for herbivores and a hunting ground for their predators. They also help keep pond water clean, and submerged vegetation maintains oxygen levels, while leaves, stems and roots offer shade and protection from predators.

When you come to choose natives for your pond, ensure you have a good mix of oxygenating, floating and marginal plants, to provide greenery for all depths of water. Oxygenators grow mainly underwater, producing oxygen and absorbing impurities. Floating and emergent plants cover the water surface, providing shade below, and marginals are happiest at the edges of the pond, growing in shallow water or damp soil.

Find out which native pond plants are suitable for your pond, below.

Water violet, Hottonia palustris, prefers sun but is happy with some shade. An oxygenating plant, it floats below the water's surface, keeping the water clean.

Fringed water lily, Nymphoides peltata, floats on the water's surface. It has yellow flowers, and rounded leaves that provide shelter to pond creatures such as tadpoles and dragonfly larvae. 

Water soldiers, Stratiotes aloides, remain submerged from autumn to spring and rise to the surface in the summer, to flower. Male plants bear clusters of white flowers; those on female plants are singular.

Frogbit, Hydrocharis morsus-ranae, is a floating plant with rounded leaves like lily pads. In summer it produces white flowers with a yellow spot on each petal.

Water forget-me-not, Myosotis scorpiiodes, is a marginal plant with a long flowering season (May to September). Their leaves are easy to fold, so newts may use them to lay eggs.

Arrowhead, Sagittaria sagittifolia, thrives in shallow water and has pretty white flowers in summer. The tall stems make ideal watchtowers for dragonflies to hunt their prey, while flowers nourish nectar-hungry insects.

Brooklime, Veronica beccabunga, has small blue flowers with a white centre. It's a fast grower, but is easy to keep under control. It's best grown at the edge of the pond, where it will merge with the surrounding garden.

Discuss this plant feature

Talkback: Native plants for wildlife ponds
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rosad1 19/04/2012 at 22:14

all very nice these native pond plants but where in east yorkshire can you find them, no one seems to stock them around here and i'm too old and disabled to go raking around in ditches!! rosad1

rena05 20/04/2012 at 09:44

In ponds it is important to use native plants because some of the imported plants are invasive in the countryside and cause huge problems in ponds in the wild.
When you tidy your pond, native plants can go on the compost heap.

Rena Moore

Nicola Bellarby 20/04/2012 at 13:08

We have a Arrowhead, Sagittaria sagittifolia, which has been our pond for three years.
Unfortunately it has never flowered. Any help with this.

Linda WatersideNursery 20/04/2012 at 21:08

Try Waterside Nursery at - they do pond plants by mail order to any where in the UK.

LizR 23/06/2012 at 18:54

The government is spending a lot of money (some of it EU money) on eradicating Himalayan Balsam, giant hogweed, parrot's feather, floating pennywort and New Zealand pygmyweed which are very invasive and smother other species.  Some garden and aquatic centres still sell these. The RHS has a good guide called Plantlife and your region's Wildlife Trust should be able to help you to source native species.

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