Pond Plants: The Best Plants for Your Pond

a water lily in another shade perhaps, or a stately marginal plant at the water’s edge. Whatever you choose will depend on the size of your pond
The best plants for your pond
Continuing our series on pondcare, this month we’re looking at the best water plants to add much needed colour

Water Plants for Pond

You’ve cleaned out the pond, netted the weeds, thrown in the oxygenating plants. Now that it’s crystal clear again, it’s time to add a new dash of colour.

Try Something Different This Summer 

a water lily in another shade perhaps, or a stately marginal plant at the water’s edge. Whatever you choose will depend on the size of your pond and whether it’s formal or more natural to attract wildlife.

One or two plants will be sufficient if your pond is well established, but if it’s brand new then there will be more of a shopping list.

Either way, a trip to the local aquatic centre will show you quite a range. Taller plants like flag iris and grasses give a contrast to the ever popular water lily. There are several yellow flowering perennials that will be particularly colourful in spring: Ranunculus linqua, with spear-shaped leaves and clusters of yellow flowers in late spring, or try the yellow flag iris, Iris pseudacorus.

Oriontium aquaticum (Golden club) is a deep water plant that dies down in winter to re-emerge in spring with pencil-like gold and white flower spikes growing above the floating blue/grey or blue/green leaves. Nemphoides peltata, the fringed water lily, has floating water lily leaves but small yellow fringed flowers throughout the summer.

Water lilies will give the wow factor to any pond and they come in different colours and sizes. Choose a small one if you don’t want the plant to dominate your pond. There are some that grow in only a few inches of water, but others will need up to about a metre (just over three foot) depth.

They provide shelter for fish and other pondlife, and also help keep algae from spreading. They are hardy plants, but do prefer an open, sunny spot and still water. They will look good in a formal pond or one that is more like a wildlife pond.

Choose from white Nymphea ‘Gladstoniana’, N. ‘Fire Crest’ and N. ‘American Star’, both pink, the latter having striking longer petals. For a yellow, go for N. ’Sunrise’, and for a paler shade, the smaller N. pygmea ‘Helvola’. See what is available at your local garden centre or try a specialist nursery.  Look for plants that have an RHS award of garden merit.

Good marginal plants include Caltha palustris (King cup or marsh marigold), with round, dark leaves and cluster of cup shaped yellow flowers in spring, reaching two foot high. Water forget-me-nots, Myosotis scorpioides, such as ‘Mermaid’, are popular, and N. sylvatica ‘Ultramarine’ has been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit.

For an elegant marginal plant, try Typha minima, a deciduous perennial with grass-like leaves and spikes of rust-brown flowers in late summer, followed by decorative, cylindrical seed heads and reaching 18-24 inches tall. Its better known relative, Typha latifolia, the bulrush, on the other hand, grows to eight feet and is too invasive for most ponds.

DO: gather weeds into a net at regular intervals.

DO: avoid invasive plants such as Myriophyllium aquaticum (Parrot’s feather), Lagarosiphon major (curly water weed) and Elodea Canadensis (Canadian pondweed).

DON’T: plant water lilies too deep at first. Place the pots on stones or bricks and lower these as the plant grows.

DON’T:  do any work in the pond if you have a wound, a cut or skin abrasion. Use gloves whenever possible.

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