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Water Plants

By Josh Spece

All of the following plants are hardy to at least zone 4 when put in the bottom of the pond (3'+ deep) to prevent freezing.

  • Hardy Water Lily -- Water lilies are a must for any water garden. They come in red, pink, white, and yellow. Most water lilies need at least six hours of direct sun per day to bloom well. When planting your lilies, the bigger the pot, the better. Fill the pot to within three inches of the top with heavy, top soil or clay. Do not use compost or commercial potting soils, because they will float out of the pot and cloud the water. Compost may cause the water to turn green with algae. Once the soil is in place, put the lily at an angle with the oldest part at the edge of the pot. Fill around it with more soil, being careful not to cover the growing point with soil. Finally, put about an inch of pea gravel or aquarium gravel on top of the soil to prevent fish from digging in it. Again, do not cover the growing point! Once the lily is planted place it so it is covered with 12-24 inches of water. Fertilize your lilies and other pond plants every two weeks during the summer. You can use special water plant tablets or one inch pieces of tree fertilizer spikes.
  • Parrot's Feather -- Parrot's Feather is a marginal plant with lime green, soft, "feathery" leaves that spread out across the water's surface. Parrot's Feather can be propagated by cuttings. Just stick the ends of the stems into soil. Plants should be 1-6 inches below the water.
  • Floating Heart -- Floating Heart has small, water lily-like leaves that have a scalloped edge, with larger leaves having purple stripes. It sends out runners across the surface of the water, and has 1 inch yellow flowers beginning in late June and continuing until frost.
  • Anacharis -- Anacharis is a grassy looking plants with small green leaves on long stems. It grows completely under the water and adds oxygen for the fish. Anacharis also helps keep the water clean and competes with algae for nutrients. (Usually does not survive the winter. Often the fish will eat it)
  • Dwarf Cattails - Narrow leaves grow to 18” tall. Forms a small “tail” like regular cattails. Water depth moist to 3”. (DO NOT completely submerge cattails or other hollow stemmed plants. They will suffocate!)
  • Water Iris - Many colors: blue, yellow, purple. Grows 2 to 3 feet tall in 2”-4” water.
  • Marsh Marigold - Round leaves grow to 8 to 10 inches tall. Small yellow flowers VERY early in spring (April). Water depth 2”-3”.

Both of the following plants are VERY frost tender, and must be treated as annuals. You should wait until the air and water temperatures are constantly above 70* F. before putting these in your pond, because they HATE cool weather.

  • Water Hyacinth -- Water Hyacinth is a fast multiplying, floating plant with purple hyacinth-like flowers. Water Hyacinths are great plants to help keep your pond clean and clear.
  • Water Lettuce -- Water Lettuce is also a floating plant, but doesn't multiply quite as fast as Water Hyacinths. It forms rosettes of light green leaves and does not flower. This is also a great plant to help keep your pond clean and clear.
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