Pond pot planted up with water lily

Three ways to make a pond in a pot

Get all the benefits of a pond, with minimal fuss and effort, by creating one in a pot. We show you how.

Creating a garden pond needn’t be a huge project. A pond in a container provides peace and tranquility and some of the wildlife value of a larger pond, and can be assembled in an afternoon, with no need to hire earth movers or wrestle with costly butyl liner.

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When choosing aquatic plants for your mini pond, check labels for key information on the water depth needed, plant vigour and the best aspect for plant health. Include oxygenating plants to help keep the water clear.

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Browse our three suggestions to make a pond in a pot, below.


Fabulous foliage

Pond in a pot with Equisetum scirpoides, Juncus ensifolius, and Cyperus involucratus
Pond in a pot with Equisetum scirpoides, Juncus ensifolius, and Cyperus involucratus

This pond display keeps things simple and highlights the beautiful foliage many aquatic plants have to offer. Use more than one of each plant for optimum impact. This purpose-made container pond comes with a grid, making it easy to position the plants. Alternatively, use upturned pots on the base to achieve the correct depth.

Pick off spent foliage regularly to prevent the water getting clogged with rotting plant matter. In spring, remove surplus roots and runners to keep the plants contained. Remove the seedheads from juncus to stop it self-seeding. Cyperus involucratus is more tender, so take cuttings or bring the plant indoors over winter.

We used:

  • Juncus ensifolius x 3
  • Cyperus involucratus x 3
  • Equisetum scirpoides x 3
  • Myriophyllum spicatum (submerged oxygenator) x 3
  • 60cm container pond

Wildlife winner

Wildlife pond pot planted with Anemopsis californica, Mentha cervina Mentha cervina 'Alba', Veronica beccabunga and Pontederia cordata
Wildlife pond pot planted with Anemopsis californica, Mentha cervina, Mentha cervina alba, Veronica beccabunga and Pontederia cordata

To create this wildlife-friendly pond pot, partially dig a metal container, such as an old tin bath (without holes) into a sunny bed so that the water is accessible to amphibians and hedgehogs. Or make a ramp from old bricks to enable easy access. These lush aquatic plants provide excellent wildlife cover, with their flowers attracting pollinating insects throughout the summer. It’s good to have low plants surrounding the pond to protect young froglets in summer.

Avoid being too tidy to encourage nature to take advantage of your pond. Plant the veronica at the edges so it will creep over onto the ground. Anemopsis californica spreads by runners, so keep it in check and pot up spare plants that have rooted. Pull dying foliage and blanket weed out by hand. Help keep the water fresh with extract of barley straw.

We used:

  • Anemopsis californica x 1
  • Mentha cervina x 1
  • Mentha cervina alba x 1
  • Pontederia cordata x 1
  • Veronica beccabunga x 1
  • Myriophyllum spicatum (submerged oxygenator) x 1
  • Cast iron bowl (a junk shop find)

Water lily wonder

Pond pot planted up with water lily
Pond pot planted up with water lily

This container showcases the charming cupped flowers of water lilies in a dedicated lily pot – choose smaller varieties for best results. Nymphaea ‘Marliacea Albida’ requires at least 30cm of water above the top of its aquatic basket, so a deep container is essential. Nymphaea ‘Pygmaea Helvola’ needs less depth (10-20cm), so just pop a brick or two under its pot to elevate it to the right height.

Maintain water levels, especially in warm weather. Avoid placing water lilies near a splashing fountain or water feature, or they will rot. Float two weighted bundles of oxygenating Myriophyllum spicatum to every square metre of water. Prune dead flowers and foliage from the base frequently to prevent water pollution.

We used:

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Which water to use

Your container pond should be filled with collected rainwater. If only tap water is available, leave it to settle for a few days to dissipate its chlorine content, or add a proprietary eco-friendly dechlorinator, available online or from a specialist nursery. Do the same thing every time you top up.

Watering can