Plants are an important part of most backyard ponds. Of course, they add to the appearance of the pond, both in the water and along the edges but they also help reduce algae growth, keep the pond cool and provide places for fish to hide and reproduce. 

There are many categories of plants for use in and around our ponds. The first considerations would be whether the plants are winter hardy or tropical.

  • Winter Hardy Plants - As the name implies, these plants are native to areas of the world where the winters routinely dip below freezing temperatures. They are able to survive the winter beneath ice cover and regrow the next spring when water temperatures rise above freezing.

  • Tropical Plants - The tropics are areas of the world where the temperatures never drop below freezing. As soon as the water temperature approaches freezing, these plants will begin to die. In temperate zones (where we have four distinct seasons) these plants are either used as expensive annuals or must be taken indoors to survive.

Within these two categories of plants, there are several other groupings depending on the growth mechanism for each type. These would include:

  • Pond_plants_10.jpg (59891 bytes)Floating Plants - Plants such as sea lettuce and water hyacinth do not attach roots to soil. They float freely on the surface with their roots suspended in the water and they draw their nutrient from it. 

  • Bottom Plants - These plants need soil in which to sink their roots. They stay in one place and some of them send their foliage to or above the surface of the water. Water lilies, iris and many other plants belong to this category. Most so-called "oxygenators" also belong to this group.
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  • Pond Edge Plants - Traditional landscape annuals, biennials and perennials may be used along the edge of the pond. These are intended to make a transition between the water and the terra firma.

  • Bog Plants - On the edge of most natural ponds or lakes is an area that is moist most of the time and a group of plants has adapted to this type of growing condition. Most landscape plants need a well-drained soil but bog plants can withstand and thrive in wet soils.

  • Landscape Plants - These are plants that need a well-drained soil Pond_plants_14.jpg (51084 bytes)for proper growth. Trees and shrubs as well as annuals and perennials add a great deal to the pond by reflecting on its surface. Whether grown in the soil or in containers, these plants form a vital part of a successful backyard pond.

    Again, each of these two groupings may also be broken down further to:

    • Pond_plants_02.jpg (26688 bytes)Foliage Plants - Some plants such as taro are grown primarily for their colorful or uniquely shaped foliage. Flowers, if any, are strictly secondary.

    • Flowering Plants - Many of the flowers in the categories listed above are grown for their beautiful flowers. Probably the most commonly grown flowering plants are the hardy water lilies, tropical water lilies and lotus.

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Floating containers filled with bright flowers can add interest tPond_plants_07.jpg (56060 bytes)o the larger pond. However, be careful not to overdo this effect. Also, it will not be compatable with an informal pond arrangement.

Pond_plants_13.jpg (72432 bytes)Potted trees such as the Japanese maple (above) and the peach tree (right) may be placed next to the pond to provide a vertical effect. Also, their reflection in the pond will add to the serenity of the area.

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