A water feature may be as simple as a bubbler in a pot or as complicated as a running stream with waterfall and pond. One of the joys of water gardening is the variety of garden plants available. Even the smallest water garden has room for a plant or two. Water plants thrive at the edge of the pond, under the surface of the water and lazily floating on top.
Bog plants naturally grow at the perimeters of the pond with their roots covered by water. In backyards, they are most often placed in pots on plant shelves built into the pond, or placed on overturned pots to bring them up closer to the surface of the water. The plants may grow very tall such as common cat-tails (Typha latifolia) reaching 7-feet tall, variegated cat-tail (Typha latifolia variegata) reaching 4-feet tall or dwarf cat-tail (Typha laxamann) reaching only-2 feet tall. Flowering bog plants include bog bean (Menyanthes trifoliata) with clusters of fragrant white flowers, yellow (Iris pseudacorus) and blue water iris (Iris versicolor) as well as flowering rush (Botomus umbellatus) which bears pink flowers on stalks 18- to 24-inches high.
Floating plants are at the mercy of the water currents and go where the water takes them. They range in size from the tiny salvinia (Salvinia rotundifolia) that have pale green leaves about 1/4- to 1/2-inch long to water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) which grows to 8-inches across in the form of a rosette. Water hyacinths (Eichornia crassipes major) multiple prolifically and are prohibited in some states because they take over the natural plants. The plants have a pretty purple flower, which is reminiscent of a hyacinth. Keep in mind the type of fish you have when putting floating plants in a pond. Gold fish love to eat duck weed (Lemna minor) and koi will munch on just about any plant.
Water lilies (Nymphaea) are the queens of the water plants. They come in a variety of colors including red, yellow, pink, purple and nearly blue. Some lilies are very fragrant, while others have little to no fragrance. Water lilies are tropical, which means that they won't live through a cold winter or hardy, which means the tuber goes dormant in the winter and re-blooms the spring. The leaves of water lilies are rounded with a notch where the stem is. The leaves and flowers float on the surface of the water, but the plant is rooted in the soil in the bottom of the pond.