Having a waterfall over rocks in your backyard or as part of your landscaping is a feature growing in popularity because of its beauty, serenity and appeal. There are many types of plants that will add greenery and color, whether flowering or not, to the landscape around an outdoor rock waterfall, making a pleasing contrast to the rocks and water. You should look for water-loving plants that naturally grow by water elements, such as pond and stream plants.
Shade-giving trees near the waterfall are a good idea, as many plants that go well near a rock waterfall enjoy shade. Trees that work well in rock gardens include evergreens for year-round greenery, and woodland trees like birch, poplar and aspen. Carrotwood, bird-of-paradise tree, fig tree, and Japanese black pine are other good choices. Take care not to put trees that drop leaves heavily too close to the waterfall, as the fall foliage will clog your waterfall's pumps and drains.
Shrubs that work well near a rock waterfall include evergreens like juniper, holly and their dwarf varieties. Depending on your local climate, you may also try yucca, dracaenas, camellia, azaleas or viburnum.
Ferns are good near waterfalls, since humidity is their primary requirement. Look for ferns native to your area, for the best acclimatization and hardiness. These may include fiddleheads, staghorns, shield fern, maidenhair fern, lady fern, Japanese painted fern, sword ferns or cliff ferns.
Creeping plants that vine and tumble down slopes may be ideal for directly near a rock waterfall, with its varying height. Try water-tolerant vines like climbing hydrangea, honeysuckle and jasmine.
Flowering plants add color and depth to any garden, and some are ideal near a rock waterfall. These include bog or marginal plants like water plantain, marsh orchid, marsh marigold, irises, forget-me-nots and calla lilies.
Mosses thrive on wet, rocky environments. Good choices are rock-cap moss, sphagnum moss, haircap moss or cushion moss. However, they do take some time to grow, and won't be fully grown for many years. Other plants that are like mosses, but grow faster, include liverwort and other worts: soapwort, pennywort, Scotch moss, Irish moss, and of course Spanish moss in Southern climates.
Pond plants may be used to float in the waterfall basin or along the edges. Many water features use one or more types of pond lilies, with their signature lily pads and flowers. Others include aquatic fern, lotus, water poppy, American frogbit, or parrot's feather.
Among stream plants, a favorite type for water gardeners are ornamental grasses and reeds. Finding some that work well on water margins is not hard. They include bamboos, cattails, umbrella plants, tules, horse tails, sweet flag and all types of rushes.