Whether you have a pre-formed or natural pond, you can choose a variety of plants you can choose to suit your particular pond that will not only enhance your pond with color and texture, but will also be beneficial in providing shade, algae control and habitat for wildlife or aquatics, such as fish and frogs. Pond plants come in 5 categories: marginal plants, water lilies, bog plants, submersed plants and floaters.
Marginal pond plants are those that are planted around the perimeter of the pond. These types of plants are best suited to containers, as they will spread vigorously if planted directly into the soil. However, if you prefer a more naturalized setting and don't mind spreading plants, then these types of plants will do well. Some marginal plants may include the Cattails, such as the Narrow-leaved (Typha angustifolia) and the Dwarf (Typha minima), which can be very invasive if left unchecked. Irises, such as 'Blue Fish' (Iris versicolor), the Asiatic Water Iris (Iris laevigata) and the Variegated Iris (Iris laevigata 'variegata') are considered marginals. Other examples are Marsh Marigolds (Caltha palustris), Sedges (Carex spp.) and Monkey Flowers (Mimulus ringens).
Water lilies can either be hardy or tropical, and come in a variety of sizes and colors. These beautiful flowering plants can be planted in pots, which can then be submerged in 6 to 18 inches of water. Water lilies are of the Nymphaea family and require full sun. They provide welcome shade for aquatic life as well as algae control. Tropical varieties include 'Panama Pacific', 'Josephine', 'Red Flare' and 'Shirley Byrne'. Hardy cultivars (for zones 4 to 11) include 'Virginia', Sulphurea', 'Sioux', 'Rembrandt' and 'Peach Glow'.
Submersed pond plants, such as Hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum), Water Violet (Hottonia palustris) and Anacharis (Egeria spp.) are those that live submersed under the water. They provide shelter and shade for fish and aide in keeping algae at bay.
This group of pond plants are at home planted at the pond's perimeter, as they like to get their feet wet and require moist soil conditions. There are many different plants to suit almost any hardiness zone or pond size. Canna lilies, such as 'Red Endeavor' and 'orange variegated' are well suited to moist areas around the pond. Other plants include the Pickerel and Flowering Rushes, Spider and Bog Lilies, Umbrella Palms, Ferns, and even some varieties of Hostas. Other garden perennials that are well-suited to the moist conditions can include the Cardinal Flower, Astilbes, Purple Loosestrife and even some varieties of Primroses.
Floating pond plants, like their submersed cousins, live entirely in the water but, unlike them, floaters simply float on the surface, often being blown by the wind across the water's surface. Examples include the Parrot's Feather (Myriophyllum proserpinacoides), the Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) and Water Lettuce (Pistia stratiotes). Water hyacinths and water lettuce are tropicals, only hardy in zones 9 to 11.