Water gardens can range from a small garden pond to a vast backyard water feature. A variety of plants are available for water gardens. From short floating flowers to taller grass-like plants, the options are endless. The key to a natural-looking water garden is a variety of plants with differing sizes, shapes and textures.
Pickerel rush, also called pickerel weed, is a flowering water plant that will add color to your pond. The flowers may be lavender, blue, pink or white depending on the variety. This plant will grow in light shade or full sun and is relatively easy to care for. It requires a good amount of space to spread and can grow to a height of one to four feet. Pickerel rush will draw butterflies and bees to your pond.
Sweet flag is a strong vertical plant that will provide a backdrop to your pond landscape. Sweet flag has tall glossy green leaves that will generally reach a height of two to three feet. Variegated sweet flag is available as well. The leaves of this variety have a distinct white variegation around the edges. Sweet flag plants give off a pleasantly sweet aroma. The leaves of the plant were once used as a doormat because of the welcoming aroma they would release when guests stepped on them upon entering the house.
Water lilies are one of the most common water plants for water gardens. The large colorful blossoms of these low-lying plants are undeniably attractive in any setting. Water lilies grow best when kept in a container set on the bottom of the pond. These flowers are available in a wide array of colors. The 'Attraction' variety is deep red at the center, fading to white on the outer petals. 'Denver' lilies are white with a hint of buttery yellow in the center. Pink blossoms adorn the aptly named 'Pink Sensation' variety. Water lilies have the added benefit of providing excellent shade for fish in the pond.
Cattails are a familiar addition to water gardens. This plant comes in several varieties, most growing to a height anywhere between three and eleven feet. All cattails should be grown in containers to prevent these plants from poking holes in lined ponds. Large ponds are best for these large plants. For smaller water gardens, the 'Graceful Cattail' variety is narrower and spreads less than other types of cattail.