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15 Best Plants for Outdoor Ponds

Every garden pond deserves a nice collection of plants. Whether you like simple leafy plants or flowers with vibrant colors, you are probably going to find some on our list. We carefully selected 15 of the most popular and decorative plants you can liven up your pond with.

It is enough to choose only a few of them and it will look amazing. These plants only require water, sunlight and your attention because a lot of them grow really fast. They know no limits so you will surely need to cut them from time to time.

Most Popular Pond Plants

Let us introduce you to the world of pond plants. It is time for you to get creative with them and start thinking about how you are going to position them in your pond.

1. Water Lettuce (Pistia)

Water Lettuce (Pistia)

Water Lettuce (Pistia)

As it grows, the Water Lettuce develops many little leaves of different sizes that form a rosetta shape. It is a wonderful addition to any outdoor pond, covering the water with lively green vegetation. The reason why it got the name ‘Lettuce’ is because of its peculiar shape.

This one will grow until it densely covers the whole surface of your pond. The Water Lettuce nicely floats on the water, providing a lot of oxygen to it thanks to its abundant leaves. In addition, its roots are edible for herbivore fish and they can even use it as spawning spots during breeding season.

In order to prevent it from overgrowing, some of the Water Lettuce needs to be removed occasionally. It is best to start small and buy only a few of them that are stringed together with a stolon. The other option is to buy seeds let them grow from the substrate.

2. Water Lilies

Water Lilies

Water Lilies

Water Lilies are available in various eye-catching colors that can liven up your outdoor pond.

At first glance, it is not easy to tell whether you are looking at a Water Lotus or a Lily. Both of these plants are beautiful and they only differ in the way their leaves are arranged.

The outmost leaves of the Water Lily are closer to the surface of the water, touching it just like lily pads do.

The great thing about this beautiful and delicate-looking plant is that it’s not demanding at all. If you are a beginner looking to decorate your outdoor pond, then buy Water Lilies by all means.

The most popular choice is the day-blooming variation but there are plenty of night-blooming Water Lilies to choose from as well.

3. Water Hyacinth

Water Hyacinth

Water Hyacinth

If you want to bring a shade of purple into your pond, then the Water Hyacinth is the perfect choice. It looks great and it also grows fast so it won’t take long until you can see its final form. However, this also means that you should keep it in check because it can quickly cover the water surface.

Each individual Water Hyacinth plant can decorate your pond with 20 flowers. It really doesn’t need much in order to grow gracefully. People love to keep it in their indoor gardens and it is a nice addition to an outdoor pond too.

Be especially careful if you want to keep them with other plants because they quickly get out of hand. At first, buy a single plant and check it regularly. Once it gets bigger, it can be trimmed.

4. Pickerel Pond Plant

Pickerel Pond Plant

Pickerel Pond Plant

Pickerel Pond Plants have small, yet glorious pointy flowers. You can choose from white, pink and blue varieties. While the flowers are quite small, there is an abundance of big leaves around them that give a wonderful overall picture.

If you are looking for mostly green plants with a spice of color, then the Pickerel Pond Plant is the one you should consider. Their big shiny leaves will surely freshen up your outdoor pond. You can easily plant a lot of them or even mix the plant with other varieties.

It will be a long lasting and aesthetic addition to your pond. Since it is rather invasive, you will definitely need to cut it back from time to time.

5. Moneywort (Creeping Jenny)

Moneywort (Creeping Jenny)

Moneywort (Creeping Jenny)

This one is very popular for its light green leaves and bright yellow flowers. Your pond will be covered with a million round shaped leaves that will be a bliss to look at. It looks especially great when planted around rocks in the water.

What the Moneywort plants need is lots of sunshine. If you want them to be strong and full of flowers, then your pond should be set up at a sunny spot in your yard. This plant also played an important role in herbalism back in the day, as people used it for healing their wounds.

As many of these outdoor pond plants, this one will also grow excessively if you don’t trim it. You should designate a certain area to it and not let it overgrow.

6. Taro Pond Plants

Taro Pond Plants

Taro Pond Plants

If you want to see a wealth of big leaves in your pond, then we can recommend you the Taro Pond Plant. What signifies this plant is its long stems and distinctively shaped leaves. People usually buy it to provide some shadow to the fish they keep there.

As the Taro Pond Plant develops more and more leaves, it not only looks beautiful but also provides plenty of space where your fish can cool down. As its leaves signify, this one is a tropical plant. This also means that you should transfer it to a warmer place during cold season.

There are plenty of varieties to choose from but all of them bring a fresh tropical look to your outdoor pond.

7. Horsetail Pond Plant

Horsetail Pond Plant

Horsetail Pond Plant

The Horsetail Pond Plant is a type of reed that has a peculiar appearance. Mixed with flowers and other kinds of vegetation, it can give further variety to your pond.

It is interesting to follow day by day how it grows and forms new segments as it reaches its peak height.

The Horsetail can get as long as 24 inches and you should get at least a dozen of the best aesthetic effect.

If that is too big for your pond, then there is the 8-inch version that looks just as great as the bigger one. This reed can practically form a wall if you let it grow in huge numbers.

It needs to be fully cut down in the fall if you don’t want it to spread its spores. Then, the same amount will regrow and it will look just as beautiful as before.

8. Mosaic Plant (Ludwigia sedioides)

Mosaic Plant (Ludwigia sedioides)

Mosaic Plant (Ludwigia sedioides)

The Mosaic Plant will be an absolutely unique addition to your plant collection. When fully developed, the way its leaves are formed gives a sort of artistic look to your plant. The reason why it is called Mosaic is because it basically forms a mosaic with its diamond-shaped leaves.

It floats on the water with its leaves spread nicely around the center. The Mosaic Plant looks amazing by itself but when the summer comes, it decorates itself even more with yellow flowers. It definitely requires a few hours of sunlight every day in order to be healthy.

The shade it produces is great for the fish swimming under the plant. This plant is not demanding at all, as it only needs warm water and sunlight throughout the day.

9. Cardinal Flower

Cardinal Flower

Cardinal Flower

Cardinal Flower, the name says it all. The vibrant colors and shape of this flower will give a completely different look to your pond than most of the other plants. This scarlet beauty will immediately attract the eyes of anyone you show it to.

It not only attracts the eyes of people admiring your pond but it’s also an irresistible sight for hummingbirds and pollinators. The Cardinal Flower is typically planted in the shallow parts of the pond, right in the soil.

The important thing about this plant is that its bottom part needs to be in the water. Too much sun is not good for the Cardinal Flower so you better plant it in a shady outdoor pond.

10. Blue Iris

Blue Iris

Blue Iris

The Blue Iris can be just as interesting as an indoor Orchid. It has beautiful, uniquely shaped and arranged pellets that flourish in purple or blue colors. If you want to lend an elegant look to your pond then this is one of the flowers we strongly recommend.

When the spring comes, the Blue Iris is going to be the first one to bloom and freshen up the pond with some colors. Now this is obviously only one of the hundreds of Irises you can get. However, it is definitely the most popular one when it comes to aquatic flowers.

Its long, pointy leaves nicely emphasize the flower part that makes the Iris so desirable for pond owners.

11. Sweet Flag (Acorus Calamus)

Sweet Flag (Acorus Calamus)

Sweet Flag (Acorus Calamus)

This is a green, dense grass like plant and they call it Sweet Flag for a reason. When you cut its strands or something damages them, the plant releases a particular sweet scent. You can use it to decorate your pond with its bright green or yellow colors.

The Sweet Flag might seem like a rather simple plant to add to your outdoor pond but it is indeed beautiful when you mix it with flowers. It can cover a small or a bigger area of the water surface depending on what you prefer.

You can choose between invasive or non-invasive types of Sweet Flags. In case you have a smaller pond, you can also go for its dwarf varieties. All of them can endure bright sunlight throughout the day but shady places are not a problem either.

12. Lemon Bacopa

Lemon Bacopa

Lemon Bacopa

The Lemon Bacopa is a delicate plant that grows lots of small oval shaped leaves. Where this plant mostly likes to grow is the edge of the pond where the water is shallow. It is the most beautiful during the summer when its blue flowers start to bloom.

The flowers of the Lemon Bacopa freshen up the air with their lemon scent. This plant has no chance to survive during the winter but it’s not hard to save some of it for the upcoming spring. All you need to do is to cut down a small part of it and put it into a water filled bowl.

Then place it to a sunny window and it will be fine. Lemon Bacopa plants are also useful because they provide shelter for the fish in the pond. They can also use them as spawning spots.

13. Azolla (Mosquito Fern)

Azolla (Mosquito Fern)

Azolla (Mosquito Fern)

The Azolla looks a lot like Duckweed with slightly different leaves. It can produce tiny leaves of many different shapes.

This plant can quickly form a rug of leaves that cover a big part of the water surface, if not the whole pond.

The water repellent leaves of the Mosquito Fern rapidly spread around. It takes only a few days until it grows a significant amount, enriching the water surface with a light green color. The Azolla is not only decorative but also very useful.

This plant actually makes the mosquitoes back away, preventing them from laying eggs in your pond.

However, it also makes keeping fish in the water a necessity because at least they can hinder its growth. The Mosquito Fern can be the primary source of food for herbivorous fish.

14. Umbrella Palm (Cyperus alternifolius)

Umbrella Palm (Cyperus alternifolius)

Umbrella Palm (Cyperus alternifolius)

We have good news for those who are looking to add that palm tree feeling to their pond. Of course, most outdoor ponds are too small for the real thing, which will be a big palm tree. However, here is the Umbrella Palm, which is a smaller plant with leaves that pretty much resemble it.

On top of that, this one can also grow pretty high, reaching a height of 6 feet if you keep it healthy. If you already have some smaller plants, then it is time to give your pond some contrast with an Umbrella Palm.

You definitely need to keep this one under control because it can spread surprisingly quickly. The good thing about it is that you don’t damage the plant that much if you cut its roots. It can grow right back shortly.

15. Cattail (Typha)

Cattail (Typha)

Cattail (Typha)

One of the main reasons why Cattail is so popular is that it’s a great natural water filter.

The other thing about it is that it has unique blooms that basically look like a cat’s tail. They are elongated sponge-like blooms that slowly turn into brown with time.

The late spring is when the Cattail is in its most decorative shape. They fall into the tall category of plants with their 5-6 feet in height.

This plant can grow and spread a lot before you know it. The easiest way is to keep them in a separate pot but you can cut the surplus down as well.

This is yet another plant that has a dwarf variation that grows only up to 3 feet in height, which is half as tall as the bigger version.

Benefits of Using Live Pond Plants

It is all about balance. The water in your outdoor pond needs to be clean from algae, oxygenated and well-filtered. There are many plants that you can buy and they do a really good job at maintaining the ecosystem in your pond.

Just imagine having a few beautiful plants in your pond instead just barely transparent water with lots of algae. If you have some fish, then buy plants that not only provide shelter for them but also plenty of food. Herbivores absolutely love to chew on some of these nutritious plants.

Some species even use it as spawning spots during breeding season. Simply put, live plants can be hugely beneficial for your outdoor pond on top of decorating it.

Different Types of Pond Plants

We can divide outdoor pond plants in 3 different categories. First off, there are aquatic weeds that float on the water. These prefer still waters and are usually fast-growing plants that quickly cover the whole surface. Since they attract insects, your fish can get some extra food thanks to them.

Secondly, there are emergent aquatic weeds. Most of them like shallow waters and they are all rooted in the soil. There are many floating emergent weeds to choose from as well. As long as you don’t let them overgrow, they are going to be quite beneficial for your pond.

And finally, there are weeds that grow under the water surface which are usually called submerged weeds. Peaceful fish use these plants to hide behind them when the predators go near. They are also great resources of dissolved oxygen.

Conclusion

Once you have carefully selected the pond plants you want to see in your yard, you only need to find the perfect spot for each of them. The great thing about outdoor ponds is that you can set up a completely unique setup.

You can combine rocks, plants and waterfalls and come up with something you will be proud to show to your friends. On top of that, some of these plants can be very useful especially if you keep fish in your pond. They are good for water filtering, providing some shade and also for keeping the mosquitoes away.

It all depends on what you need. Fortunately, with such a huge amount of plants to choose from, you can really get creative with them.

Updated: January 7, 2020 | Ponds

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