Water features have become very popular in landscape settings. They attract wildlife, bring a sense of nature to the landscape and provide a relaxing atmosphere. Carefully chosen native plants that thrive in water add beauty to the overall landscape. California's plant selections for a water garden are plentiful. Some plants attract hummingbirds and butterflies, while adding color, form and texture to the water garden.
Mimulus Guttatas (Monkey Flower)
Mimulus guttatas, or the Streamside Monkey Flower, is a perennial plant that grows in zones 6 to 9. It reaches a mature height of 12 inches, with a width of 22 to 48 inches. The plant produces racemes of funnel-shaped, bright yellow flowers measuring ½ inch in diameter. Named monkey flower because it resembles a grinning monkey, the water garden plant blooms all summer.
Leaves are ovate to oval, and they spread vigorously, sometimes forming mats on the surfaces of still water. Mimulus guttatas prefers wet or seepage areas, and fertile humus rich soil. Preferring full sun to partial shade, the Mimulus guttatas plant is ideal for a bog or a pond.
Pontederia Lancifolia (Pickerel Weed)
An ideal water plant for zones 3 to 10, Pontederia lancifolia (Pickerel Weed), is a perennial that can grow up to 4 or more feet tall. It has heart-shaped leaves that are 8 to 14 inches long and 4 to 8 inches wide. From June to October, Pontederia lancifolia produces soft blue or violet-blue flowers with two yellow spots in a terminal spike up to 6 inches long. Fruits are edible, as well as the leaves. Eat the young leaves in salads and cook when matured. Pontederia lancifolia prefers full sun to light shade and moist soil.
Juncus Patens (Common Gray Rush)
Known as Common Gray Rush, Juncus patens is a perennial plant that is available from California to Washington. It has small cylindrical leaves, topped with a ball-like brown flower and grows up to 2 inches tall and 2 inches wide. Juncus patens is an evergreen plant that turns brown in the winter. It has stiff, upright clumps of steel blue-gray foliage 2 feet tall. Juncus patens prefers full sun to partial shade conditions, and it can tolerate some heat or drought.
An ideal bog or pond plant for zones 4 through 9, Juncus patens prefers moist soil or shallow water, but will grow almost anywhere. The plant can tolerate a temperature down to 35 degrees Fahrenheit, and it resists deer and cows. Juncus patens can be invasive if not maintained regularly. Planting in pots before submerging in water can prevent over-spreading.