Alphabetical Plant Listing

Water Garden Plants

Floating Plants, Submerged Aquatic Plants, Water Lilies, Lotus, Marginal Aquatics, Water Irises


When creating a water garden you must consider the needs of the plants you will use, the chemistry of the water and the requirements of other living creatures (fish, frogs and others). Not all aquatic plants are alike. There are 5 main groups of plants. Here is a simplified list to help you create a beautiful water garden.

Bog Plants love wet soil, but they do not tolerate standing water, particularly in the winter. They consume excess pond nitrogen and phosphates.

Marginal Plants thrive in shallow water around the edge of the pond or water garden. Though their roots grow underwater, most of the plant grows out and above the water. Also called emergent plants, they provide refuge for wildlife, add vertical interest in the garden, and help create a natural transition from the pond to the surrounding landscape. They are also excellent filtering plants and they absorb impurities that would otherwise be fed on by algae.

Deep Water Aquatic Plants grow on the bottom of the pond or water garden and produce leaves that float on the water surface. They include water lilies, lotus and floating leaf plants. They provide surface cover, thus preventing oxygen loss and evaporation. They also act as a hiding place for fish to raise their fry.

Submerged Plants, often referred to as oxygenators, grow completely beneath the water. They may, however, boast flowers on the surface of the water. They produce oxygen, absorb carbon dioxide, help improve water quality by filtering excess nutrients from the water. They also provide food and cover for fish.

Free Floating Plants float around freely on the surface of the water. They survive without soil by extracting nutrients from the water. They provide shade, remove excess nitrogen from the water, and also help control algae growth.

When choosing plants for your water garden, always be careful to select non invasive plants and not to discard your pond plants in rivers, lakes, or streams.

How Many Plants Should I Need?

Eco-balance within the pond is important. An overabundance of aquatic plants can strain a pond’s ecosystem and potentially lead to a fish kill.

  • Approximately 60% of the water surface should be covered with a combination of floating plants and floating leaves. These plants cut down on excess light that might encourage algae growth while still allowing sufficient light through to lower levels plants.
  • Submerged plants should be distributed 1 bunch per 1 or 2 square feet of the water surface's to provide enough nutrient control and maintain clear water - this ratio is valid as long as the fish population and amount of decomposing organic matter are controlled.

Guide Information

Plant Type Aquatic Plants
Landscaping Ideas Bog Gardens, Ponds and Streams, Water Gardens

Edwin Butter, Shutterstock

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Plant Type Aquatic Plants
Landscaping Ideas Bog Gardens, Ponds and Streams, Water Gardens

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