Arizona gardeners interested in building a pond in their yard need to be especially mindful of the types of plants they choose. This is mainly due to the intense heat of Arizona summers, where temperatures in most locales reach well over 100 degrees. While it takes careful consideration, there are a variety of plants known to do well in ponds in Arizona.
Cyperus haspens (dwarf papyrus) adds a whimsical touch to your pond, with its umbrella-like tassels at the end of its long stick-like stems. The tassels are lime green in color, and turn a striking bronze in late summer and fall, adding visual contrast to your pond and garden. Considered an invasive plant, the dwarf papyrus can take over your pond and the surrounding border if you let it. Once its stems droop over to the point where they touch the water, new plant offshoots will grow (similar to the houseplant Chlorophytum comosum--spider plant). You can cut these small new plants off and float them in the water of your pond, plant them along the edge of your pond, or discard them. Dwarf papyrus does best in water at least 1 to 4 inches above its crown.
Black Magic Taro
Coloscasia esculenta (black magic taro or elephant ears) has deep purple stems and large, arrow shaped charcoal colored leaves. The leaves of black magic taro can reach expanses of more than 2 feet long on a 2- to 4-foot tall plant. It does best when planted inside a five gallon bucket and set 6 to 8 inches below the surface of water. While it can tolerate full sun, it does best in the hot Arizona summer if planted in partial shade.
Scarlet Monkey Flower
Mimulus cardinalis (scarlet monkey flower) is a real showstopper when planted at the edge of your pond where the soil is consistently wet. With its profusion of bright, crimson tube-like flowers that blossom in the summer, it provides a contrast to plants in your pond grown mostly for their foliage, such as black magic taro. Hummingbirds and bees flock to scarlet monkey flower to enjoy its nectar. It can grow up to 2 or 3 feet tall and become bush-like in appearance. Let it grow naturally for a more wild looking landscaping addition, or trim it to keep it to the shape and size you desire. When the weather turns cold it can be cut back to ensure more robust growth in the spring.
Planting in Aquatic Baskets
According to Greenfingers.com, placing your pond plants in aquatic baskets rather than directly into the soil at the bottom of your pond is a mess-free and convenient way to plant them. Using aquatic baskets also helps contain plants that tend to take over small ponds, and makes it easier to re-arrange your plants.