Plants That Live in & Around Freshwater Ponds

Plants that live in and around freshwater ponds help to keep the water clean and provide oxygen to support wildlife. Plants also add variety and interest to the landscape. If you are adding plants to a backyard pond, choose plants that are noninvasive in your area. Consult your local extension office if you are unsure of a plant. Inspect all plants you purchase to ensure that no invasive plants have been included accidentally with your order.


Bulrush (Scirpus spp.) is a perennial grass. It grows in shallow water or very moist soil. Bulrush tends to form dense colonies. Some species will grow to 10 feet tall. Bulrush has dark green stems and a stalk-like appearance, because it does not sprout any obvious leaves.


Cattail (Typha spp.) grows in bogs with no standing water and will grow when partially submerged in deeper water. Cattails grow 5 to 10 feet high. Cattail flowers are dense, dark brown objects that look similar to a cigar or hot dog. Cattail seeds blow in the wind and float on the surface of the pond. Cattail grows also by spreading rhizomes underground.

Lizard's Tail

Lizard's tail (Saururus cernuus) is a perennial that grows to 4 feet tall. Lizard's tail has heart-shaped leaves that range from 2 to 5 inches long and 1 to 3 inches across. The stems are long and hairy. Lizard's tail flowers are small and white and grow on a structure that forms an "an arching tail-like shape," according to the Texas A&M University AgriLife Extension service. The tail wrinkles as the seeds develop. Lizard's tail spreads through rhizomes. It has a distinct smell, reminiscent of oranges.

Mud Plantain

Mud plantain (Heteranthera reniformis) produces small, kidney-shaped leaves. It grows to about 1 foot high. The leaves are a bright green and glossy in appearance. The flowers are star-shaped and blue or white in color. Mud plantain spreads by rhizomes.


Parrotfeather (Myriophyllum aquaticum) has bright green foliage above the water. Leaves that grow below the water are reddish in color, however these leaves drop off after the plant becomes established. The stems grow to about 10 inches high. It produces very small white flowers. In North America, parrotfeather spreads by rhizome, not by seed. If not controlled, parrotfeather can overtake a pond and develop into a noxious weed.


Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) has shiny green leaves and grows to between 3 and 4 feet tall. The leaves are lance shaped and grow up to 7 inches long. Pickerelweed produces violet-blue flowers that bloom for only one day. The flowers have a tube shape and grow to 3 to 4 inches long. Pickerelweed spreads through rhizomes and seeds.

Keywords: freshwater ponds, freshwater pond plants, marginal pond plants

About this Author

Lee Roberts has written professionally in different capacities throughout her career. She has written for not-for-profit and commercial entities since she received her B.A in sociology from the University of Michigan in 1986. She has been published on She is currently writing an extensive work of fiction.