A pond can bring many benefits to a garden, from attracting a range of wildlife to creating a tranquil atmosphere to sit and enjoy. There are many aquatic plants that will thrive in, or on the edge of, your garden pond. In the video below, Alan shares some of his top picks.
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Join Alan for more inspiration, as he shares more of his garden favourite, for everything from spring colour, to plants for shade and must-grow veg, in our new podcast series: Alan Titchmarsh's Garden Favourites.
Alan's favourite pond plants
Of all the plants in the garden pond, provided the pond is big enough, I do think the waterlily holds a special place. I wrote a poem "Out of reach, among reflections, the languid lily lies. Back against the water, gazing at the skies." The waterlily is a wonderful plant. It disappears entirely in winter. The leaves die down to these overwintering root stocks. And then in early spring, the first leaf will pop up, then another. And finally you end up with this great carpet of pods among which the starry waterlily flowers lie with their backs to the water, gazing at the skies. It's lovely, especially when the fish are nibbling around them - I'm a great waterlily fan.
I don't think there's a more graceful plant to put at the edge of a pond than the flag iris. The sword-like leaves in themselves are wonderful when reflected in the water. And then, come May, the flags at the top, the fleur-de-lis open bright yellow or I've got one that's also a slightly paler yellow too. So they're decorative, but also even when they're out of flower I like that kind of vertical sword-like arrangement around the edge of the water when the water is absolutely still and mirror-like they're reflected on the surface. They seem to grow up and straight back down again and they are so easy to grow.
When I was little, growing up in Yorkshire, we used to go and look at the tarn on the moors above Ilkley and very, very early in the year, the first plant to flower on the edge of the tarn would be the water blob. That's what we called it, the kingcup, Caltha palustris, a socking great buttercup with big rounded leaves and big round yellow flowers, too. It's one of the earliest pond plants to flower, if not the earliest. And that's what really makes it worth growing. Easy as pie in the shallows or the boggy ground at the edge of your pond.
It's all too easy to have a pond which looks good in spring and early summer. That's when most pond plants seem to flower - the flag irises, the kingcup. But later on, as the summer unfolds, you still want a bit of colour. And that is where the purple loosestrife comes into its own. It makes tall spires of flower, really rich, deep pink. And there's one particular variety called 'Firecandle', which is very strident. I do like a bit of strong colour around the edge of the pond because that way it gets reflected as well and you double your money.
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By far the most important plants in a garden pond are the ones which are least spectacular, which you probably don't even know are there. But if they are there, you're generally assured of clear water. These are the submerged oxygenators, the Elodeas, the Myriophyllums. They clean the water, they keep it clear and they pump oxygen in, vital for water life, whether it's fish, tadpoles, frogs or newts. So whenever you're making a pond, don't underestimate the value of the submerged oxygenators. They do their work silently and out of sight. But the results are, pardon the pun, clear to see.
- Want more inspiration for pond plants? Discover our pick of the best plants to keep your pond healthy and beautiful.