10 Types of Aqua Plants - Urban Agriculture

10 Types of Aqua Plants

If your backyard has a water feature like a pond or water garden, then wouldn’t it be a great idea to add some aquatic plants to bring it to life?

Adding aquatic plants to your water feature will not only enrich your garden and make it appear fuller and more beautiful, but water plants are also a great way to naturally filter and maintain your pond. This will lead to happier and healthier fish, plus they may also bring some benefits to other natural wildlife in your area like frogs or turtles. 

But with so many aquatic plants out there, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Here are some different types of aqua plants that you can add to your pond!

Creeping Jenny

This British native is a great creeping plant to introduce to your water feature. 

It creeps around the edges of your pond, grows over the earth and has leaves that will float on the water surface. They also bloom bright yellow flowers during the summer to brighten up the dense foliage. Creeping Jenny plants also do fine underwater as well. They are also evergreen, so they will still bring some color to your water garden even in the winter.

A lot of landscapers use this plant to make pond edges appear more natural and softer, so it is a great way to blend your pond in with its surroundings. They will also hang and grow well over a raised pond, making them ideal for any kind of water feature. 

Cardinal Flower

The cardinal flower is a highly versatile plant that is often used by gardeners to bring a splash of bright color to their gardens. 

Named after their vibrant red color that is similar to the vesture of Roman Catholic Cardinals, this plant grows well in wet places such as streambanks and swamps.

The cardinal flower easily turns heads and catches the eye thanks to its showy flowers, so they will make an amazing addition to your pond and water garden. They even attract butterflies and hummingbirds, so you can even help your local wildlife by planting some of these submerged in your water garden. 

They are also perennial, so you are sure to enjoy these plants year after year as long as you take good care of them. The cardinal flower is easy to grow so long as its roots do not dry out and they have a fair amount of sunlight. Then, they can bloom every year and bring a flush of red to your water garden. 

Sweet Flag

Sweet flag is an aquatic plant known by many other names – such as sway or muskrat root – but this tall flowering plant is a sweet addition to any water garden. 

It can grow to about 12 inches tall and emits a sweet smell that repels insects. This can help your other plants stay safe from any pesky pests, so it is worth including some Sweet Flag in your water garden or in your pond. It will appear like grass in the water, with yellow-brown leaves that sport smooth edges. These will help fill up your pond or water garden, bringing some vibrant foliage. 

Water Lilies 

A classic aquatic plant, water lilies are commonly found in ponds and water gardens all across the state. 

They are beautiful flowers with fragrant and showy petals that spiral outward in a range of colors like pink and white.

The flowers sit on rounded, waxy leaves and float gently on the water’s surface. Dainty and elegant, water lilies are a go-to choice for aquatic plants. They also provide food for fish and local wildlife, making them something more than just ornamental plants. 

However, water lilies do come with a few maintenance issues. They can grow very quickly and sometimes cause drainage issues, so you may find that the surface of your pond will be quickly overgrown with lilies. This can be tackled by constant maintenance and limiting the number of lilies in your water garden. 

Despite this, they are undeniably beautiful and look amazing in any kind of water feature. 

Blue Iris

Also known as the Japanese water iris blue, this perennial iris is able to grow in shallow water. 

The blue iris grows erect from the water, in sharp sword-shaped leaves, topped by bright blue flowers that can grow nearly four inches wide! This makes them a great choice for those with ponds and water gardens, as the blue iris can be used to soften the edges of your water feature. They also bring some bright color to your water garden, as they bloom in late spring through early summer. 

And if blue isn’t your color, there are other pond iris flowers available that can bloom white, orange, yellow, or even black flowers to match your color scheme – giving you full control over the appearance of your water garden.

Water Lettuce

Water lettuce is a fun way to bring some evergreen color to your water garden but is warned – they should only be handled by experienced gardeners. 

This is because water lettuce can grow to be an invasive species if left unchecked. They require a lot of maintenance and if left to grow unsupervised, they can cover the entire surface of a pond and kill the fish within through oxygen depletion. 

This has led to water lettuce being restricted and sometimes even banned in some states. Therefore, you need to check if water lettuce is legal in your state before you decide to add some to your water garden. 

If you feel confident enough to grow this plant, you will be rewarded with some spongy green foliage that floats on the water surface of your pond. It is velvety and hides small yellow flowers and blooms through fall. But remember – only dare to grow this plant if you are experienced enough to maintain it and keep it from growing out of hand. 

Water Forget-Me-Not

This European native flower is a versatile little plant that can grow in wet ground and also survive submerged in water. Like Creeping Jenny, it is a great aquatic plant to use to soften pond edges and borders, blending the ground and water together. 

The water forget-me-not can grow over a foot tall and bears small, cute flowers that are easily distinguishable. The pink buds bloom blue petals when fully open, with bright yellow centers that make this flower iconic and recognizable to a lot of gardeners. 

Although this plant may seem cute and inconspicuous, it is also known by a way cooler name – scorpion grass! This is due to the spiral curve of its ‘tail’ at the end of its stems. Distinctive and easy to grow, the water forget-me-not is a wonderful border plant to use in your water garden. 

Amphibious Bistort

Amphibious Bistort is a perennial member of the Knotweed family and comes in two different forms. There is one form that can grow quite a bit from the water, and another that grows within the water with leaves that float upon the surface. This is how this plant got its amphibious name! 

Able to grow in shallow waters, the amphibious bistort is a beautiful flower to include in your ponds and water gardens. They bloom small pink flowers in blush tones, and will sometimes creep ashore to bloom on land. This is a great way to blend your flower beds with your water features, as you can grow some amphibious bistort on land and in the water. 

Water Crowfoot

If you are looking for a great oxygenator aquatic plant for your ponds and water gardens, then look no further! The water crowfoot is a great addition to your pond that keeps it algae-free and releases oxygen for your fish.  

A member of the buttercup family, the water crowfoot aquatic plant also displays white and yellow flowers that float on your water’s surface. It is a cute way to bring some flowers and color to your water garden, as well as filter your water to keep it free of any pesky algae. Thus, a lot of gardeners include this aquatic plant in their ponds and water gardens to help maintain it naturally. 

Water Poppies 

And finally, we have water poppies. 

These aquatic plants are very low maintenance and are a great choice for those starting out with their first pond or water garden. They appear vaguely like poppies, only yellow in color with three delicate petals. They can grow around 2 inches, with an additional 2 inches thanks to their shiny, floating leaves. 

Water poppies are also loved by bees, so adding them to your water garden will also help conserve these essential pollinators. This combined with their low maintenance and excellent appearance means they are a fabulous choice for any water gardener. 

  • Conclusion 

And there are ten types of aqua plants that you should consider growing in your water garden or pond. Some are easier than others, each with its own benefits and disadvantages, but they all look amazing and would make wonderful additions to your water gardens. 

So start planting and get growing!

Caroline Roberts
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