Landscaping a pond in the shade is more difficult than landscaping a pond in full sunlight. Keeping leaves and other vegetation out of a pond to prevent rotting and keep the water clean can prove to be challenging. In addition, most aquatic plants require full sun to thrive. However, there are a few water lilies, marginals and floating plant varieties that will tolerate full shade.
Water lilies prefer at least 6 hours of sun daily. However, some species will take less sun than this. Bear in mind that lilies that receive less sun will produce fewer flowers, although they will still produce foliage. Water lilies should be planted in heavy clay loam, and should be planted in either a fabric pond pot or a no-hole plastic container. The opening of the pot may be covered with gravel, although the growing point of the lily should not be covered. A large pot should be used for both tropical and hardy lilies. Hardy lilies should be planted in early spring. Tropical lilies should be planted after water temperatures reach 70 degrees F. Planting tropical lilies too early can cause them to go dormant.
Dwarf bamboo is a marginal plant. In other words, it is a plant that is placed around the edges of a pond. It grows well with its roots wet and the rest of the plant sticking out of the water. Dwarf bamboo tolerates full shade, making it an option for a shady pond. The plant propagates through runners, so it is wise to confine the plant inside a pot that is sunk into your pond. It is characterized by grasslike leaves that circle the stem, and tassels that cover the top portion. The plant will grow up to 3 feet tall in the shade.
Lemon bacopa grows best in streams, waterfalls and around the edges of ponds. If your pond incorporates a water feature, this plant may be one that you wish to incorporate. It produces blue-purple flowers in the summer. The foliage is lemon scented, which gives the plant its characteristic name. Bog garden enthusiasts grow lemon bacopa as a ground cover. The plant may grow in deeper water, but when it is submerged it will not produce flowers. It propagates by spreading through runners. To keep the plant contained, snip off and discard these runners. Overwinter the plant by cutting off 3-inch tips and floating them in a cup of water.