Water garden plants will live in many different areas of your aqua scape. Some have leaves that float freely and gracefully on the water’s surface and are not tethered by a pot. Others desire only wet feet and live on the shoreline or the shallow areas of a pond. These plants are called bog plants or marginals as they are placed on the margin of the pond typically in 2 – 6 inches of water. Yet others prefer to be potted and totally submerged in the water, either sitting on the bottom of the pond or raised slightly by being placed on bricks or rocks with their leaves floating up towards the surface. Another type of water plant is available in bunches, gathered together and bound by a small weight. When placed in the pond they will sink to the bottom and are excellent oxygenating plants if you have fish in your pond or water feature. Or if you desire, they may be potted and placed on the bottom of the pond. They also provide a spawning area for fish and a hiding area for fry until they are big enough to fend for themselves.
Irrespective of the size of your water garden, from a tub on your deck or patio to the open water of a large pond, there are plants to satisfy all of your needs.
By recognizing the habits of water plants and selecting the appropriate variety for the appropriate place you can enjoy a beautiful, virtually labor free pond. As is the mantra of the Master Gardener’s…..”Right plant, right place”!
Submerged oxygenating water plants…..elodea/anachris, cabomba, eelgrass, sagittaria
Plants that float freely on the pond surface….water hyacinth, water lettuce, water fern, hornwort, duckweed, fairy moss, frogbit
Bog/marginal plants….most prefer water 2” to 6” deep…..canna, sedges, umbrella plant, some irises such as yellow flag, Japanese, blue flag and Siberian; papyrus, horsetails, chameleon plant, cardinal flower, rush, parrot’s feather, pickerel weed, arrowhead, lizard’s tail, cattail, marsh marigold, pennywort, sweet flag, taro
Submerged plants…..water lilies (dwarf, miniature, hardy and tropical. The top of the water lily container should be 8 to 12 inches below the surface. Water lilies also like calm water surface.), lotus (known for its height—many get up to 6 feet tall, but there are dwarf varieties available-- and its beautiful foliage and blossom)
D. Alleman, E. Bradley, L. Fox et al. (2002). Best plants for Hampton Roads: A landscape and garden companion. Norfolk, VA: Foxy Lady Press.
H. Nash, & N. Cook (1999). Water garden basics. New York, NY: Sterling Publishing.
Ortho (1999). Garden pools and fountains. Des Moines, IA: Meredith Books.
Sunset (1997). Water gardens. Menlo Park, CA: Sunset Publishing.
P. Swindells (2003). The water garden encyclopedia. Toronto, Canada: Firefly Books.
Reviewed by: Megan Tierney, Extension agent, agricultural and natural resources, Hampton Office.
Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Interim Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.
September 29, 2011