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Water Gardens

Water gardens offer enjoyable sights and the soothing sound of splashing water. There is a wide range of plants to use, including hardy and tropical water lilies, lotuses, submerged or floating aquatics, marginal aquatics, water irises. Browse our list of moisture-loving plants and create a stunning water garden. Not to forget, water gardens are a water source for wildlife such as birds, frogs, and turtles.

Water Gardens Guides


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Acorus calamus 'Variegatus' (Variegated Sweet Flag)

Ideal for wet areas, Acorus calamus 'Variegatus' (Variegated Sweet Flag) is an attractive herbaceous perennial forming a tuft of gracefully arching, narrow, sword-shaped leaves adorned with creamy-white and green stripes. Often displaying a nice pink tinge in cold weather, the foliage is sweetly fragrant when bruised.

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Acorus calamus (Sweet Flag)

Ideal for wet areas, Acorus calamus (Sweet Flag) is a spreading, marginal aquatic perennial forming a tuft of erect, sword-shaped, bright green leaves adorned with one slightly wavy edge and a prominent midrib. In late spring, this plant bears inconspicuous greenish-yellow flowers in finger-like inflorescences, 2-4 in. long (5-10 cm), which give way to tiny, reddish berries. Both the crushed foliage and rootstocks have a pleasant aromatic fragrance. A great choice for naturalizing, Sweet Flag is quite versatile in the garden and makes a decorative foliage accent in water gardens and around ponds.

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Acorus gramineus 'Ogon' (Golden Variegated Sweet Flag)

Ideal for wet areas, Acorus gramineus 'Ogon' (Golden Variegated Sweet Flag) is a semi-evergreen herbaceous perennial forming an attractive tuft of gracefully arching, narrow, sword-shaped, golden-yellow leaves adorned with olive green stripes. The foliage is sweetly fragrant when bruised and evergreen in mild winter areas.

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Aeschynomene fluitans (Botswana Wonder)

Aeschynomene fluitans (Botswana Wonder) is an aquatic perennial forming a dense, floating mat of hollow to spongy stems that spread rapidly over the water surface. The stems are clothed with pinnately compound, blue-green leaves that close up when slightly touched. The leaves have small oblong leaflets, 16-26 pairs per pinna, arranged in opposite pairs. Dainty, yellow flowers, resembling sweet-peas, appear over the foliage from summer to fall.

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Alisma plantago-aquatica (European Water Plantain)

Alisma plantago-aquatica (European Water Plantain) is a robust aquatic perennial forming rosettes of long-stalked, lance-shaped, gray-green leaves to 12 in. in length (30 cm), often splashed with purple. In late spring and throughout the summer, very fragrant, forked, white to very pale pink flowers with rounded tips and smooth or jagged edges, are borne in tall panicles. There are arranged in whorls that form large conical-shaped clouds of white or pink. The long-lasting flowers provide a focal point that gives the pond depth and interest.

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Aponogeton distachyos (Water Hawthorn)

Aponogeton distachyos (Water Hawthorn) is an aquatic perennial with long, oval shaped, often mottled, green and red leaves, 3-6 in. long (7-15 cm) and small white flowers held just above the surface. The deciduous or partially evergreen leaves float on the surface of the water from a petiole up to 40 in. long (100 cm) arising from tubers growing at the bottom of water bodies. Profuse vanilla-scented, forked inflorescences bearing tiny white flowers with brown anthers bloom from fall to spring

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Azolla caroliniana (Carolina Mosquito Fern)

Azolla caroliniana (Carolina Mosquito Fern) is a tiny floating fern forming a mat of prostrate and freely branched stems covered with bilobed scale-like leaves arranged in two rows. The upper leaf floats on the surface and the lower leaf is submerged. The pale green to blue-green foliage warms up to bright red in response to stress such as very bright light or very high or low temperatures.

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Azolla filiculoides (Mosquito Fern)

Azolla filiculoides (Mosquito Fern) is a tiny free-floating fern forming a mat of pinnately branched stems covered with minute, two-lobed leaves arranged in two rows. The upper leaf floats on the surface and the lower leaf is submerged. The bright green foliage warms up to purplish-rose in response to stress such as very bright light or very high or low temperatures. Small feather-like roots are produced along the lower surface of the stem and hang freely in the water.

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Bacopa caroliniana (Lemon Bacopa)

Bacopa caroliniana (Lemon Bacopa) is a creeping or floating perennial wildflower with thick succulent leaves that are heavily lemon-scented when crushed. Blooming from late spring through fall, this aquatic plant boasts a profusion of small bright blue flowers, less than 1 in. (2.5), that attract a variety of small pollinators. Native to the southeastern U.S.A. and Cuba, Lemon Bacopa occurs naturally in coastal shores, tidal muds, marshes, disturbed wetlands. It can be grown above the surface of the water or fully submerged to help oxygenate the water.

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Bacopa monnieri (Water Hyssop)

Bacopa monnieri (Water Hyssop) is a creeping, mat-forming, aquatic or semi-aquatic perennial with small, succulent, oval and shiny leaves. Blooming from mid spring through fall (year-round in mild climates), it boasts a profusion of small, axillary, bell-shaped, white flowers that are often tinged with blue or pink. They attract a variety of small pollinators. Very adaptable, Water Hyssop can grow submerged in several inches of water. It makes a good groundcover that can take light foot traffic. Fast growing, it is widely used as a hanging basket or container plant too.

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Brasenia schreberi (Watershield)

Brasenia schreberi (Watershield) is an aquatic perennial with floating, oval, bright green leaves, 4 in. long (10 cm), with reddish purple undersides. Resembling miniature water lily leaves, they are borne on long petioles that are attached to the center of the leaf. They create a lovely backdrop for the purple to burgundy flowers, 1 in. across (2.5 cm), that arise above the floating leaves. Blooming in summer and early fall, the flowers have a two-day blooming period.

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Butomus umbellatus (Flowering Rush)

Butomus umbellatus (Flowering Rush) is an herbaceous perennial with erect or floating, very long, grassy leaves, up to 3 ft. (90 cm) or more. In summer, large umbels of fragrant, rosy-pink flowers, 1 in. wide (2.5 cm), are borne on stiff stems. The delicate blossoms are pollinated by bees, flies, and lepidopterans. They are followed by beaked fruits which split at maturity to release the seeds.

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Calla palustris (Water Arum)

Very showy when in flower or bearing its fruit, Calla palustris (Water Arum) is a rhizomatous aquatic perennial boasting broadly heart-shaped, lustrous leaves, 6 in. long (15 cm), adorned with pointed tips. The glossy leaves are borne atop floating stems arising from shallow creeping rhizomes.

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Caltha palustris (Marsh Marigold)

Awakening the pond in spring, Caltha palustris (Marsh Marigold) is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial prized for its clusters of brilliant yellow flowers, up to 2 in. (5 cm), resembling buttercups.

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Caltha polypetala (Giant Marsh Marigold)

Resembling giant buttercups, Caltha polypetala (Giant Marsh Marigold)) is a herbaceous perennial prized for its clusters of large, brilliant golden flowers, up to 2 in. (5 cm). They boast up to 40 showy stamens in their center.

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