Iris versicolor

Plants for container ponds

Creating a container pond? Find out which plants to choose for it, in our guide.

No room for a garden pond? Then why not create a container pond – ideal for a patio or balcony.


Firstly choose a site, in sun or shade. This will determine the plants you can grow. Next, choose your plants. You will need an oxygenator, such as Myriophyllum spicatum, to grow below the water surface – this will keep the water fresh. You will need some cover for the soil surface – for example, a waterlily. Finally, you’ll need to add height and more flowers.

Waterlilies can be planted at the bottom of the pot, but most of the other plants will need to be planted less deeply – use shelving, a grid, or some bricks. Check the labels for planting depths.

Fill with rainwater and top up regularly. In autumn, take out fallen vegetation.

Here are five plants that are ideal for a pond in a pot in a sunny spot, recommended by Waterside Nursery at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016.

Firstly choose a site, in sun or shade. This will determine the plants you can grow.

Marsh cinquefoil


Marsh cinquefoil, Potentilla palustris, has unusual deep-red flowers. It helps to cover the pond surface, shading the water and providing cover for wildlife.

Dwarf water lily


Nymphaea ‘Walter Pagels’ is a dwarf water lily that is ideal for larger containers. It will also cover some of the water surface. Remove any dying foliage or flowers regularly. Waterlilies are hungry plants, so feed with aquatic feed tabs.



Iris versicolor is an upright plant that provides colour early in the season, from May to June. It’s a hungry plant so will appreciate some feeding with aquatic feed tablets.

Anemoposis californica


Anemopsis californica is useful for adding height. It has unusual, cone-shaped flowers that appear from June to August. They have a delightful honey fragrance. It sends out runners that will turn into new plants if potted up once they have rooted.

Oenanthe javanica ‘Flamingo’


Oenanthe javanica ‘Flamingo’ has delicate leaves with interesting pink and white margins. It’s good for shading the surface of the pond.


Keep blanketweed at bay

Add extract of barley straw regularly, to keep blanketweed at bay.

Gardening gloves. Photo: Getty Images.

Five pond plants for shade