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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Kate Bradbury says

Brooklime and water forget-me-not are favourite plants of newts, which lay their eggs individually on leaves.

Kate Bradbury