Pond plants are primarily herbaceous perennials and ferns that thrive in or around small bodies of water. While many pond plants float on top of the water, others firmly anchor their roots in the muddy soils under the surface. Gardeners interested in growing pond plants should select plants according to hardiness zone, bloom time, general culture and mature size.
Cape pondweed (Aponogeton distachyos), a member of the Aponogetonaceae plant family, naturally occurs in South Africa and does well in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) hardiness zones 6 to 10. This perennial ranges from 6 to 48 inches in height and spreads out 12 to 30 inches. Cape pondweed features floating leaves and fragrant, white flowers that bloom from July through September. This hardy pond plant grows best in shallow bodies of cool water that receive partial to full sun. Gardeners often use cape pondweed in small ponds and water gardens.
The Canadian pondweed (Elodea canadensis) belongs to the Hydrocharitaceae plant family and originates in North America (N.A.). This aquatic perennial performs well in zones 4 to 10. The Canadian pondweed reaches up to 12 inches in height and 3 feet in width. This plant features weak stems and green-white flowers that appear from July through September. Canadian pondweed plants like cool waters that receive full sun. While this plant helps to control algae, Canadian pondweeds quickly overrun large bodies of water. Gardeners often use this plant in smaller ponds and water gardens.
Water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) matures up to 6 inches in height with spreads ranging from 6 to 18 inches. This herbaceous perennial in the Araceae plant family typically does well in USDA Zones 8 to 10. Water lettuce plants feature rosettes of soft, green leaves covered with water-resistant hairs. The non-showy, white to yellow-green flowers appear from June through September. This free-floating ornamental plant tolerates various lighting conditions. Aphids occasionally feed on the foliage. Water lettuce works well in ponds and water gardens.
The water snowflake plant (Nymphoides indica) naturally occurs in the tropics and generally performs well in zones 8 to 11. This Menyanthaceae plant family member ranges from 3 to 6 inches tall and 12 to 24 inches wide. The white flowers look like small snowflakes blooming above the water's surface. These flowers appear in July and August, but each blossom appears for just a single day. Flat, green leaves float on the surface of the water. This perennial needs wet soils in 12 to 24 inches of water. Water snowflakes grow well in small ponds, pools and water gardens.
Victoria Water Lily
Victoria water lilies (Victoria amazonica), also called royal water lilies and giant water lilies, come from the Amazon region, but typically survive in zones 10 and 11. Mature plants reach up to 12 inches in height and feature large, floating leaves that range from 4 to 6 feet in diameter. These leaves have yellow-green tops and red-to-copper undersides. Fragrant flowers bloom in July and August, emerging white and turning pink to purple with age. These night-blooming flowers only live for 2 or 3 days. This Nymphaeaceae family member prefers loamy soils in calm, warm waters. Gardeners often use Victoria water lilies in larger ponds and pools.