Native plants for your pond

Plants are vital components of your wildlife pond, providing both habitat and food for a host of animal species. Wildlife ponds should have much of their water surface covered by a good variety of plants. The more complicated the underwater 'architecture' of roots, stems and leaves, the more animal species can co-exist. Very few animals like clear open water, where they are easily spotted and eaten by fish.

Although some plants can colonise ponds very quickly, people will want to introduce plants of their own choice. It is important to plant native species, to which our native animal species are adapted. The species in the table (see pages 14-15) are all attractive and easy to establish.

Water plants fall into four rather artificial categories. Submerged plants live with all or most of their structure underwater. They offer a very valuable habitat for animal species in deeper water, and help mop up surplus nutrients.

Floating leaf plants have their leaves on the water surface in summer, and provide shade and cover. Floating sweet-grass provides some of the best habitat, and is excellent for growing over the edge of the liner, giving a natural look.

Emergent plants include some attractive species. They prefer shallow water to root, forming excellent invertebrate habitat, but most of their summer growth is out of the water. They include rushes and reeds, as well as some very fine flowering species, but some are just too vigorous for a small pond.

Marginal and bog plants thrive at the water's edge or in wet soil. They

Left: Fringed water-lily. Right: Water mint. Chris Gibson/English Nature

Facing page: Parrot's feather. This introduced plant can quickly smother even a large pond. Bob Gibbons

Left: Fringed water-lily. Right: Water mint. Chris Gibson/English Nature

Facing page: Parrot's feather. This introduced plant can quickly smother even a large pond. Bob Gibbons

Potamogeton

Native plants for garden ponds

Suitable

Comments

for

Submerged plants

Curled pondweed (Potamogeton crispus)

1

Also fennel pondweed (P. pectinatus)

Water starwort (Callitriche stagnalis)

1

Floating rosettes of rounded leaves

Rigid hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum)

1

Thickly-tufted plant, vigorous

Water milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum)

1

Caution! NOT Myriophyllum

aquaticum

Water crowfoot (Ranunculus aquatilis) *

1

Partly floating, attractive white

flowers

Floating leaf plants

Broad-leaved pondweed

2

Excellent for habitat

(Potamogeton natans)

Frogbit (Hydrocharis morsus-ranae)

1

Attractive white flowers

Floating sweet-grass (Glyceria fluitans)

2-3

Good habitat; plant at the margin to

float out

Yellow water-lily (Nuphar lutea)

2

'Brandy bottle': smells of alcohol

Fringed water-lily (Nymphoides peltata)

2

Fringed yellow flowers like buttercup

Water soldier (Stratiotes aloides)

2-3

Impressive spiky plant that sinks in

winter

White water-lily (Nymphaea alba)

3

Beautiful, but too vigorous for most

gardens

Shallow water emergents

Amphibious bistort (Persicaria amphibia)

1

Pink flower stalks, dark green leaves

Water forget-me-not (Myosotis scorpiodes)

1-2

Small, pale blue flowers

Lesser spearwort (Ranunculus flammula)

1

Less spectacular, less invasive than

spearwort

Spearwort (Ranunculus lingua)

2-3

Giant water buttercup, to 90cm high

Arrowhead (Sagittaria sagittifolia)

1-2

Arrow-head leaves, and small white

flowers

Brooklime (Veronica beccabunga)

1

Blue flowers, straggly, good at the

pond edge

Bogbean (Menyanthes trifoliate)

2-3

Beautiful, invasive but easy to control

Native plants for garden ponds

Suitable for

Comments

Tall emergents

Flowering rush (Butomus umbellatus)

1-2

Very pretty pink-flowering rush

Branched bur-reed (Sparganum erectum)

3

Unusual spiky flower, semi evergreen

Water mint (Mentha aquatica)

2-3

Pretty, scented leaves, invasive, good for bees

Water plantain (Alisma plantago-aquatica)

2

Small pink flowers, up to 1m high

Greater pond-sedge (Carex riparia)

2-3

Makes good invertebrate habitat

Lesser bulrush (Typha angustifolia)

2-3

Not for small ponds

Common reed (Phragmites australis)

3

Fine plant, but too big for most ponds

Marginal and bog plants

Bugle (Ajuga repens)

1

Very pretty, deep blue, good for insects

Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris)

1-2

Superb low yellow-flowering plant

Hard rush (Juncus inflexus)

2

Less invasive than soft rush; brown fruits

Lady's smock (Cardamine pratensis)

1

Pretty pale purple flowers

Yellow flag (Iris pseudacorus)

2

Superb yellow flowers, red seed capsules

Ragged robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi)

1

Pretty, delicate pink flower

Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)

2

Great red-purple spikes

Yellow loosestrife (Lysimachia vulgaris)

2

Fine yellow-spiked plant

Marsh woundwort (Stachys palustris)

1-2

Pale purple flower spikes

Great willowherb (Epilobium hirsutum)

3

Tall red-flowered plant, seeds freely

Hemp agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum)

3

Impressive red-purple flowers, seeds freely

Royal fern (Osmunda regalis)

2-3

Superb native fern, dislikes lime

Suitability 1 Plants appropriate for all ponds, including small ones.

2 Plants rather too big or vigorous for smaller ponds.

3 Plants best reserved for larger ponds only.

Most crowfoots do best where the water level drops to expose a muddy margin on which the seeds germinate.

Pennywort Pond Plant
Floating pennywort Hydrocotyle ranunculoides - a plant to avoid! Bob Gibbons

include some real beauties. If you've made a bog garden alongside your pond, you can really go to town with some stunning effects, while providing cover for frogs, toads and newts.

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Responses

  • bella
    Can i put juncus inflexus in koi pond?
    5 years ago

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